We live in a busy world and yes, busy equals business and business often means travelling for business.
In today’s corporate sphere, routine business travel and an employee’s assignment abroad are not only common, but are an integral part of the daily operations. However, risks inherent to employee travel remain top of mind as companies continue to globalise their operations.
At a recent Travel Risk Outlook briefing hosted by International SOS in Johannesburg, the company identified health-related issues and incidents as a top area where travel risk is expected to increase in the next year.
From its own experience in dealing with travel risk, International SOS indicated that health related risks most commonly seen and those which are expected to continue to increase include: stomach/gastrointestinal problems, road accidents, inadequate healthcare, flu and non-infectious diseases.
According to Henning Snyman, Coordinating Security Operations Manager at International SOS, it is just about impossible to prepare for these type of incidences, which makes travelling planning and management a difficult task sometimes.
However, he adds that for the benefit of companies and their travelling employees to follow these basic guidelines:
Regular health checks
While the ideal scenario would be to have travellers assessed before and after each trip – it is not always feasible.
International SOS suggests that companies implement processes where travelling employees are checked at scheduled intervals. For example employees under 50 years should have scheduled checks at least every two years while older employees should have annual checks. Other factors that will also influence a traveller’s health profile and the interval of assessment include a history of high blood pressure and should a passenger be overweight.
Have systems in place
Companies should consider keeping traveller health files to ensure travellers are properly vaccinated for trips. As well as arranging for vaccinations, ensure that travellers are provided with information about the specific health risks, possible symptoms and action to take if they fall ill.
Also vital is to keep a record of travellers’ pre-existing medical conditions and medication that they are on. Ensure they carry a doctor’s letter and a copy of any prescriptions while away, in case their medication is lost in transit. Also ensure their medication is legal in the country they are visiting.
As a rule of thumb, often travellers will not remember their previous vaccine history, so keep a record, even if you are outsourcing the immunisations.
The same applies to records of allergies. Keep a record of any allergies to vaccines, medications and also any food items.
No two travellers are ever the same. Consider whether your traveller is a first time traveller or someone with more experience and provide them with the necessary personalised information they will need to ensure they stay healthy and safe.
However, even if an experienced traveller is going to a particular destination regularly, make sure they are reminded of health risks. They are perhaps the most likely to become complacent and encounter problems.
Ensure that your travellers have the comprehensive travel and health insurance to cover them in any event.