Managing international travel


Friday 21 October 2016


Alan Drew
Director, Travel Safety Management International


In this highly anticipated webinar, travel safety expert Alan Drew will advise on what he thinks should constitute a travel safety management system. He will focus on legal considerations, the major risks, the need for risk assessment, travel planning, crisis management considerations, insurance provisions and staff member/family support. This will be invaluable information for organisations in which travel is involved.


Alan spent 16 years as an enforcement officer in local government with a specialism in health and safety. He then spent the next 23 years managing the health, safety, security and travel requirements of a London-based international bank, with an operating region covering Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East/North Africa but with staff who travelled globally in furthering the business of the bank. He was involved extensively in crisis management and incident response, as well as developing the staff member/family support programmes.

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Q: How do you embed such a piece, when the organisation has a zero security culture/appetite?

A: This is always difficult, particularly if the organisation has not seen a serious incident, and/or seen staff reluctant to travel. My advice would be to either set up a workshop, working group or similar to start a conversation, to work with supportive managers or departments and introduce changes at a local level (other staff see this and very often want the same), or benchmark against all known contacts, competitors, etc and produce a gap analysis. Most importantly do not time-limit any proposed change – it can take five years to change a reluctant organisation/management, so concentrate on both the quick wins and the very slow wins.

Q: Alan, what is your view on travel risk as one part of working away from base i.e. the activity undertaken while in country?

A: You needs to consider both, so that they dovetail.

Q: Whilst understanding the limits on criminal enforcement away from the UK surely there are responsibilities under HASAW and MHSWR to ensure the safety of staff before they embark on travel and if arrangements aren't suitable and sufficient wouldn't that be grounds for HSE action?

A: The local authority responsible for enforcement in my previous business refused to engage in any discussion about managing overseas travel risk, even with preparation, risk assessment, etc. on the basis that they had no jurisdiction over the ‘away for the UK’ travel. However, staff undergo risk getting out of the country, and travel can be part UK/part non-UK, so I certainly considered there was an exposure in the preparation and UK element of the travel. Any organisation should consider a legal opinion with this.

Q: Is there an exemplar travel risk assessment available as an example?

A: There are very many examples of travel risk assessments on line, particularly from the education sector (but there are many other private sector examples) – my advice would be to start with a generic assessment for all travellers, which should lead to recommendations for individual travel risk assessment where necessary.

Q: How does social media impact on this topic?

A: Today, with the speed of communication, you have to be able to manage an incident very quickly – great reputational damage can be caused to organisations who have not thought through their systems in advance. Equally travellers from different organisations talk to each other, or see things online, both of which can generate pressure to get things right, so that your organisation's staff trust your system and any information, restrictions, decisions provided.

Q: What does Alan think about the new pas 3001:2016? It’s the new travelling for work from British standard.

A: This is a good independent standard, which should in my view be read in conjunction with ‘safety without borders’ – be more careful with publications produced by service providers – they can be biased towards the services being offered and not cover all risks both appropriately and proportionally.

Q: Could an organisation be criminally liable in the UK under the HASAWA if they sent an employee overseas to a location where the employee was at increased/unreasonable risk?

A: Take legal advice – my experience has been that enforcement agencies will not engage because they see no legal liability, but I have not seen this tested.

Q: Is travel something that we should be assign our annual risk assessors to include in the company risk assessment?

A: I would say definitely – if you assess risk annually for other factors, add this to the list, but your activity/generic travel risk assessment may suggest less often for low risk activities (perhaps very two, three or even five years, depending on the risk).