Nothing could be more useless to a traveller or risk/safety management professional than a global travel health and security risk map. Vague information about every square centimetre of a an entire country, but nothing on the immediate 10 Kilometres around your specific location! These ‘maps’ were useless in 1990, and they haven’t become any more useful or relevant in 2016.
Consider this… you are in a country deemed as ‘low risk’ by one of these global travel health and security risk maps. However, you are hundreds of kilometres from a city, without access to medical care, no communications and a serious medical condition, without water. Is your current situation “low risk”? Conversely, you are in a “high risk” country, as depicted on the global travel health and security risk map, but you are in a well serviced hotel, next door to the most advanced medical treatment facility in the country, you have no serious medical concerns, and will be attending a conference at the hotel over the next couple of days. Is your health really “high risk” at this stage? Alternatively, you are in a major capital city in a developed country deemed “low risk” when a violent shooting incident takes place within a few hundred meters of you. Is your personal security whilst travelling really “low risk”? Finally, you are travelling to a specific city within a country tagged as “high risk” by one of these travel security risk maps. However, your travel is well planned, you are met at the airport by professional security personnel, transported in accordance with your company’s road movement security plan and accommodated within a well protected and secure site administered by your company for the duration of your visit. Is your specific journey, under these specific circumstances really “high risk”? Ask for the specific travel safety risk assessment for you and your journey if you want know exactly what the prevailing and residual risk is, based on the specific identified hazards.
These maps, while often asked for by some, and found all over the internet, have no real value for COMPLIANT travel health, safety, security and risk management systems or professionals. They also don’t even come close to what could be considered international risk management standards, safety management compliance or even specific diagnostic support for individuals.
Leading into 2016, it is time for consumers [and providers] to stop with this travel safety management “theatre”. All show, no substance. These group and one-size-fits-all ideas have never been either helpful nor compliant. If you think they have, try this safety exercise:
Make a public announcement to your company and employees, that according to national data, 90% of motor vehicle accidents in the country involve males aged 18 to 23. Therefore, anyone in the company, not in that demographic requires no safety management training, may drive any vehicle, in any environment, under any circumstances, and at whatever speed they feel is appropriate.
Now see how long you remain in that role, and with that company.
These maps and claims make the same statement, and are just as dangerous. Selective data, no context to the individual and non-documented risk analysis processes upon which a safety decision is based.
If you still don’t believe this to be a valid comparison, prepare your statement for a criminal investigation into safety negligence, that lead to the death of an employee, where you tell the court and jury that you “used a single map on a piece of A4 paper, depicting the entire country [as part of a world map] to determine the hazard and subsequent risk to all your employee’s health and security, regardless of personal circumstances, control measures or other modifiers. If the thought of this makes you nervous or you don’t want put your name to the process then you probably already understand the danger to you and your company if you use travel health and security risk maps when determining a traveller’s safety.
Travel health, safety, security and risk management is a case-by-case process, considering all the relevant and contextual elements specific to the traveller, activity, destination and supporting resources. If you want low, medium and high, check the weather forecast, or a government travel advisory site. Neither are ‘fit for purpose’ or resemble ‘safe work systems’ as part of compliant travel safety management program.
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