Toxicology Occupational Health & Hygiene

Toxicology Occupational Health & Hygiene

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Toxicology Occupational Health & Hygiene

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Toxicology Occupational Health & Hygiene

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Question:
Discuss about the Toxicology Occupational Health and Hygiene.
 
 
Answer:

Introduction:
Multinational companies often send employees abroad to introduce their products and services in new markets. This not only provides new opportunities to employees, but also exposes them to security and health related risk as a result of working in unfamiliar conditions. The need for global security in organization has risen because of business interruption and health and safety issues experienced by employees due to natural disasters and terrorism acts (Leggat and Zuckerman 2015). Hence, it is the legal and moral obligation of organization to safeguard workers, who travel overseas in addition to protecting physical asset of organization. However, the current issue is that many employers are sending employees abroad without evaluation of risk and consideration about critical resource for travelers. This endangers employee and exposes organization to legal consequences too (Many Firms Fail to Protect Workers Traveling, Living Abroad 2017).
As a Health and Safety Manager for an organization with 1000 staff, the review of the organizational policies and procedures has revealed that the organization do not provide adequate protection to their employees who travel overseas. As staffs who travel worldwide for meeting and conference have diverse gender and travel experience, it is necessary they follow appropriate procedures of health and safety in international travel. Hence, this report provides evidence and discussion regarding the importance of following legislation for health and safety for overseas travel to protects employees and the steps that needs to be considered for putting appropriate procedure in place.
 
Discussion on health and safety surrounding international travel:
Legislation related to health and safety for employees going overseas for work
From the legal perspective, it is important that organization consider the risk and workplace safety for employees going abroad for work. This is because the Singapore Duty of Care legislation imposes a duty of care on the employer towards their employees. This has come up from common laws such as Employment Act and Workplace Safety and Health Act (WHSA) that looks after employment and welfare issues of employees. The Duty of Care policy imposed a legal obligation for employers to take reasonable steps to ensure health and safety of employees who need to travel on work. The WSHA encompasses a liability regime on employers which is summarizes as follows:

To proactively identify and eliminate risk and hazards at workplace.
To maintain minimum health and safety standards at workplace
To eliminate foreseeable risk to employees while on work related duties (The Singapore Employer’s Duty of Care on Workplace Safety & Health when Employees Travel 2017).

This legislation can also be applied for employees who travel overseas for work because definition of workplace in the Act means any premise where an employee is at work. Hence, this reasoning makes it clear that an employer’s responsibility towards employee extends beyond the primary work place. Therefore, as a Health and Safety Manager for an organization, it is the duty to ensure that employees travelling overseas are also adequately protected with safe and reasonable procedures. The action of little exposure of employees to risk might result in civil claims for the organization due to breach of legislative duty as an employer. Hence, to avoid criminal liability and avoid the need for compensating employees for risk according to the Work Injury Compensation Act, it is necessary to establish effective procedures for Health and Safety in relation to international travel (Hood et al. 2016).
 
Identification of risk surrounding lack of protection of employee going overseas
The above explanation on legal implications for employees presents the risk and legal liability for workers if they do not consider the health and safety of workers who travel abroad for work. However, it is most important to prevent risk to workers when they travel in unfamiliar countries. Some of the risk that a worker may get exposed without reasonable safety procedures in organizations includes the following:

Health risk: Health risk is top most challenges and concern for employees travelling overseas. According to the CDC report, for every 1 lakh employees travelling abroad, about fifty thousand of them are experiencing some form of health issues. Another unfortunate finding is that only 10% of international business travelers received pre-travel health care. Employees are most likely to be exposed to outbreak of disease in host countries. This may include severe diseases like Hepatitis A, avian flu, Influenza virus, Ebola and Zika virus to common ailments such as gastric disorders. The risk may vary for individuals according to location of the country.  Due to this cost, the cost spent on treatment and prevention of disease increases and the goal of international visit is defeated (CDC Traveler’s Health 2017). 
Lack of awareness about culture priorities, local laws and language of the area: Serious communications issues and other consequences is also faced by workers when they are ignorant of foreign laws and cultural preference in the country. Lack of knowledge about appropriate dress or eating habits might trigger hostility in foreign country. Employees must also have basis knowledge about language and common gestures. If they are not trained in this area, they are bound to face many issues while on international visits. This might disrupt simple task of buying food to moving around in the city too (People Management Magazine Online 2017).
Exposure to risk from crime, political instability and civil unrest and terrorism: Political unrest might be a serious hazard for workers travelling to unfamiliar countries. The exposure may be high when business operates in high risk locations. The level of difficulties for employees may range from travel disruptions to personal safety risk due to violence and conflicts. Apart from this, travelers might also be exposed to crimes and assaults, which might lead to compensatory implications for organization. Recently, terrorism has also started affecting travelers and workers (Smith 2014).

Methods to put up procedure into place for safety of employees travelling abroad
Considering the risk to employees and employers in the absence of appropriate procedure for management of international travel, it will be essential to establish a systematic procedure in the organization.  A detailed and comprehensive plan will ensure well-being of employees during international visits and conference. Apart from the initial step of analyzing the risk in specific country of visit, monitoring workers while they travel globally will also be important. This is dependent not just on development of extensive plan, but also on arranging infrastructure to maintain safety of travelers. The success and compliance to duty of care will also depend on sharing the goal of safety and well-being for employees with HR professional and other stakeholders such as staffs involved in risk management and travel and security issues. This stepwise process indicate that the safety and health management of employees initiates when the culture of organization recognize the well-being of employee. This will ensure minimum standards of safety are maintained for all employees at work (Smith 2014).
 
In accordance with the above plan of setting procedure for health and safety of workers travelling abroad, the systematic process that can be followed in the organization includes the following:

Risk assessment: The first responsibility for organization will be to establish a documented process of identifies all categories of hazards for employees and accordingly implementing risk control for all those measures. This stage will require the contribution of work health and safety professionals and middle manager with expertise on international travel management. They will play the key role in preparing backup plan and controls for mitigating the risk. Other responsibilities of this staff will include preparing hazard checklist and manuals for employees going to particular countries and distributing them to employees scheduled for a visit in particular location (Leder et al. 2015). The responsibility will not end after the workers have gone, tracking employees while they are overseas will also be important. Infrastructure support will be needed for this endeavor and investment in database tracking system give help to collect information, send, and receive hazards alerts. In addition, to maximize protection and communication with employees while they are working abroad, employers can also set up a 24 hour helpline for guidance on required action during unanticipated events (Harvey 2013).

Strategies to eliminate risk to employees before going on foreign visits: To prevent the risk of contracting disease among employees while on international tour, it will be necessary for the organization to ensure that employees trained and prepared adequately before travelling. This training will give information to employees about general weather, local laws and policies and procedures of the visiting organization (Costa et al., 2015). Secondly, all arrangements will be made to provide access to medical support and adequate health care for them while travelling. The Health and Safety Manager of the organization will also have the responsibility to implement preventive measures in organization before travelling. This will include providing first aid kits and health cared to employees and arranging immunization or vaccination programs in the organization. This systematic method of immunization and health related safety of workers will be achieved by collaboration with international health care providers abroad so that workers do not face difficulty in seeking medical service abroad (Harvey 2013).

To address the issue of risk to employees from violence and political unrest in foreign countries, organizations can prepare for it beforehand. This starts from the initial process of assessing potential risk in business locations that employees are scheduled to visit and comparing them with the profile of the employee. This is important because an employee who has visited the same country for business purpose before may be conversant with the local norms and process to control risk, however a novice may not be conversant with the way to deal with it (Mäkelä et al. 2015). Therefore, it should be made a priority to provide all necessary information and security related advice to employees for living in a foreign country and making them aware of ways to avoid risk. If a company has enough financial resource, they must also provide housing with adequate security support. Another precaution that employees should take is that they must not carry things of monetary values with them during overseas visit (Mäkelä et al. 2015).
 
Tracking and assisting employees while they are on international visit: Business organizations sending their employees abroad must establish a systematic process in place for tracking and assisting employees to monitor and communicate at any time. Tracking systems enable constant monitoring of employees during travels. A travel app on employee’s personal device might also help to monitor risk (Brown 2017). However, one ethical that might arise with this system is that many employees disregard them as they invade their privacy. However, this step can be eliminated if employees understand their responsibility too and comply with all the organizational procedure during travel and checking in with headquarters.
Conclusion:
The report presented the legal obligations of employers according to the Duty of Care to protect employees who travel internationally for work. According to this legal framework laid down by the Employment Act and WHSA Act, it has become a legal and moral obligation to provide health and safety to employees even when they are abroad. This is also necessary because unfamiliar environment in foreign countries and lack of knowledge regarding local norms and law exposes employee to many risk. Some of the risk discussed in the report includes health risk, security related risk from political unrest and violence in foreign countries and hostility issues due to language and cultural difference. As health organization with 1000 employees lacked the process to protect employees going on international visit, the report presented a stepwise systematic procedure to implement Health and Safety process surrounding international travel in organization. This initiates from the risk assessment process to elimination of risk before by means of training and guidance followed by tracking employees when they have left for the foreign country. The above mentioned plan is just a structural framework according to which an organization can set up procedure for Health and Safety, however it is recommended to change the duty of care programs according to location of travel, place of work, types of employees and organizational culture.
 
Reference
Brown, T., Anthony, J.J., Chalfant, S., Gingrave, M. and Vines, B., Hartford Fire Insurance Company, 2017. Safety evaluation and feedback system and method. U.S. Patent 9,563,919.
CDC Traveler’s Health. 2017.  Cdcfoundation.org.  [online] Available at: https://www.cdcfoundation.org/businesspulse/travelers-health-infographic [Accessed 14 Jun. 2017].
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2014: The Yellow Book. Oxford University Press.
Costa, M., Oberholzer-Riss, M., Hatz, C., Steffen, R., Puhan, M. and Schlagenhauf, P., 2015. Pre-travel health advice guidelines for humanitarian workers: A systematic review. Travel medicine and infectious disease, 13(6), pp.449-465.
Harvey, B. 2013, “Safety While Working Abroad”, Professional Safety, vol. 58, no. 12, pp. 20.
Hood, J., Hardy Jr, B. and Simpson, L., 2016. Workers’ compensation and employee protection laws in a nutshell. West Academic.
Leder, K., Steffen, R., Cramer, J.P. and Greenaway, C., 2015. Risk assessment in Travel medicine: how to obtain, interpret, and use risk data for informing pre?travel advice. Journal of travel medicine, 22(1), pp.13-20.
Leggat, P.A. and Zuckerman, J.N., 2015. Pre?travel health risk assessment. In Essential Travel Medicine (pp. 23-34). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Mäkelä, L., De Cieri, H. and Mockaitis, A., 2015. International Business Traveler, Is Work Always on Your Mind? An Investigation of the Relationship Between Sources of Social Support and Satisfaction with Work-Related International Travel: The Moderating Role of Over-Commitment. In Work and Family Interface in the International Career Context (pp. 181-195). Springer International Publishing.
Mäkelä, L., Kinnunen, U. and Suutari, V., 2015. Work?To?Life Conflict and Enrichment Among International Business Travelers: The Role of International Career Orientation. Human Resource Management, 54(3), pp.517-531.
 Many Firms Fail to Protect Workers Traveling, Living Abroad. 2017. SHRM. Retrieved 14 June 2017, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/risk-management/pages/protect-expat-workers-overseas.aspx
Smith, E.N., 2014. Workplace Security Essentials: A Guide for Helping Organizations Create Safe Work Environments. Elsevier.
The Singapore Employer’s Duty of Care on Workplace Safety & Health when Employees Travel. 2017.  [online] www.internationalosfoundation.org. Available at: https://file:///C:/Users/admin/Downloads/Singapore%20Employers%20Duty%20Of%20Care%20%20a%20summary.pdf [Accessed 14 Jun. 2017].
 Top five risks for employees travelling overseas – People Management Magazine Online. 2017.  Www2.cipd.co.uk.   [online] Available at: https://www2.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2016/08/05/top-five-risks-for-employees-travelling-overseas.aspx [Accessed 14 Jun. 2017].

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