Doing business in the badlands – Part 2
In the second of our 3-part series, we consider the health & safety implications and employer liability of doing business in high-risk and volatile jurisdictions.
Health and Safety at work is intended to protect personnel from hazards on the job. It establishes procedures for dealing with these hazards. To send employees to regions where injury or death are real possibilities involves, on the face of it, quite a different approach to Health and Safety. Sending staff to work in a complex environment appears to be the opposite of good Health and Safety practices. Obviously, some of the principles of protecting employees in dangerous places are different; others are surprisingly similar.
For example, the most significant risks in some of the dangerous parts of the world are not of kidnap or murder, but illness, traffic accidents, and violent crime.
A company sending personnel to a dangerous location must be honest to their staff, that means assessing and understanding the risks involved before deployment. Many companies underestimate the cost of security, and only recognise the problems once having deployed in-country, too late!
Start with a withdrawal plan, and decide on how big a threat to staff needs to be to force a withdrawal.
Being honest with employees means giving staff appropriate training in advance of any travel or setting up of offices, especially in first aid. And it means using people with experience where possible. Inexperienced staff need more specialist support.
A prudent company will make sure that the judgment of independent legal and security experts is absorbed at “C” level and clearly communicated throughout the entire team, and that risks are kept under constant review.
Local staff might have a better sense of danger and be less conspicuous than expatriates in a dangerous country, minimise the use of “foreigners”. Deployed managers must take their responsibilities to local personnel seriously and should not allow them to be put at greater risk than expatriates.
Barry ET Harris MBE is a consultant for Proelium Law LLP. He is also a British Army veteran who combines operational experience with extensive commercial consulting, executive, and management expertise gained in complex environments and high-risk jurisdictions worldwide.
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