Duty of care has been one of the most overused and least understood terms in the travel industry for the past few years.
This is largely due to vendors labeling nearly everything they do as Duty of Care, and not understanding what it really means either.
However, there are many others that are avoiding the real issue, just to make a sale.
Here is what they are not telling you.
In 1970, the United States introduced the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970 (US), and a short time later, in 1972, created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to act as the United States OHS regulator.
The legislation introduced a duty on employers to “furnish to each of his employee’s employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”.
As stated in section 5(a)(1) of the Act.
The UK followed suit not long after with the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974 (UK).
Now, it is important to know these facts as the concept and definition of the duty of care was born under the legal and practical application of safety, by means of risk management.
This means that you must be able to demonstrate safety and risk management….not just some obscure reference to a phrase extracted from the legal compliance and official act.
This means that products, services, and efforts applied in the management of employee safety MUST be safety orientated and compliant.
How many vendors or providers tell customers they are safety or risk management compliant providers?
Why, because they aren’t.
And they NEVER what to be!
There are rules, regulations, procedures and other evidentiary requirements needed in order to comply, not to mention they now face regulatory control and prosecution themselves if they fail.
This is why they NEVER make any reference to safety regulations or international risk management standards….in addition to usually FAILING all reasonable safety compliance and evidentiary steps.
This is why they sell you “duty of care”.
You can best see this demonstrated when travel management companies start claiming their product or service is now a “duty of care” solution.
When did they acquire the relevant safety management experience and risk management compliance?
ILO Convention 155, Occupational Safety and Health Convention 1981 provides the framework for international occupational health and safety regulation and has been ratified by 52 countries.
Employee safety and risk management are not exclusive to a few countries but may vary slightly in their application or compliance requirements.
This convention, along with many local Acts, refers to design safety, a hierarchy of controls, testing, choice, maintenance, relationships, training, communications, cooperation, protection, reasonably practicable, availability of information, in addition to reviews and inspections.
No one element overrides all the others and nowhere does it absolve any organization or manager if they buy or use some flimsy product labeled “duty of care”.
If your business can’t demonstrate each and every aspect of the workplace safety management requirements, your business, employees, and travellers are at risk.
Here is an example of the key elements you MUST prove for safety.
If your business can’t demonstrate an effective and internationally accepted risk management process, covering each and every compliance requirement, your employees and travellers are at risk.
Here is an example of the key elements you MUST prove for risk management, as outlined in ISO 31000.
Forget any branded or self-published standards, these are the most common international and legally used terms of reference.
The onus of proving reasonably practicable [that is what any everyday person may deem appropriate] varies between countries.
It may be the defendant/company responsibility as it is in Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Canada or it may rest with the claimant.
Remember, you need to demonstrate safety and risk management practices, as it relates to the relevant laws, legislation and accepted management practices.
Not just a random reference to having a duty of care.
These laws and concepts have been around since the early 1970’s, with a few adjustments and updates along the way.
They didn’t appear recently but nearly every business failed to apply it to travel or mobile workforces until their liability and negligence have been demonstrated in court, often followed by criminal charges and hefty fines, in addition to negative public opinion.
Stop believing the random duty of care claims.
Ask for what specific safety and risk management act or standard any travel product/service complies with if they attempt to slip “duty of care” into the sales pitch.
Ask for evidence of what exact compliance of their product or service achieves on both a safety and risk management basis…if any at all.
The results will shock you.
You will find many providers and their sales personnel far less “chatty”.
Most of all, you should now have a better foundation in which to create and compare your company’s travel safety and risk management standards based on actual law, standards and relevant acts, which is what is required for legal defence.
Lastly, if you and your company are genuinely invested in managing the safety and risk of your travellers, in much the same manner as you do conventional or physical workplace environments, then ensure you have a documented and integrated travel safety and risk management system in place, not just something your corporate travel manager claims is in place.
It often isn’t.
Especially if all they did was go out and buy a few “duty of care” products at random.