4 tips to consider before traveling to a high-risk location

7 minutes

With our global community so much more accessible and the prevalence of international business opportunities, it is no wonder that more people than ever before are working, living or traveling to high-risk areas that pose significant potential dangers.

Many organizations are now mastering risk management, while some are simply more conscious of safety, implementing quality intelligence, risk management systems and training for travelers. However, some companies have not yet recognized the risk to their people – and their business – and may not know the prevalence of violent crime and other safety risks their people may face.

As a travel or risk manager, it’s your job to prioritize the wellbeing of your employees, no matter where they travel. In addition to the measures above, these tips can help you plan for the safest possible experience for your travelers.

  1. Train your travelers. If your people are traveling to a high-risk location, providing them with Hostile Environment Training (HET) or Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) is the best way to ensure they understand the risks and are able to plan and prepare accordingly. This training helps you deliver your duty of care, providing staff with the knowledge and tools to deal with challenges and risks they may face in conflict areas. If you are not able to secure training, at minimum, you must, at minimum, provide travelers a travel security intelligence briefing as a part of their travel preparations.
  2. Do your research. Gather and examine all available intelligence and research security risks, natural disasters, climate, weather forecasts, culture, religions, traditions, political situations, crime, corruption, safe borders and in-country support. Ensure travelers have validated permissions to travel, visas, permits, passports, tickets, insurance and the necessary specialist insurance required. It’s also important that you carefully assess, vet and validate any transport, accommodation, fixers, drivers, security and support staff. Additionally, examine and prepare any special equipment needs, such as transit documents, permissions, temporary imports and protective and/or secure cases.
  3. Make a plan. Prepare a risk management plan and contingency plans to address risks uncovered during your research. Review necessary equipment, communication devices, protective clothing and all the general travel accessories and clothing that may assist your travelers, and ensure all equipment is working. Encourage travelers to test their communication and navigation systems and have emergency numbers programmed on speed dials and pre drafted SMS messages for emergencies. Understand medical conditions in the region, including vaccination and immunization needs, and prepare appropriately. It’s also essential that you ensure the necessary medical evacuation arrangements are in place if they are needed.
  4. Prepare for on-the-ground traveler needs. Make travelers aware that information security is important and ensure electronic devices have passwords and encryptions. Travelers should ensure they have no documentation or data that could increase their risk; if they need to carry documents, consider if they can be stored on a separate encrypted USB or in the cloud. When booking accommodations, ensure the property has 24/7 security personnel and that it is not near government buildings, embassies or major religious centers and icons. Encourage your travelers to plan routes carefully. They should know where they can escape to in case of emergency and local points of possible assistance like hospitals, police stations or border crossings. Travelers should maintain a low profile, and their clothing, luggage and especially footwear should be durable and appropriate. It’s also a good idea to ensure travelers have adequate medical/emergency and survival kits and an escape pouch with emergency essentials. If your travelers will need protective clothing like ballistic vests and respirators, get specialist advice, correct ratings and sizes and encourage your travelers to wear them when the risk is present.

Please note that, while we provide this information to help you consider and implement appropriate risk-mitigation measures, it’s essential that you seek advice from your local, regional or central company representative to determine the perceived threat level and appropriate measures. Such measures may be more or less stringent than those listed in the tips above.

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