Personnel Safety, Special Topics in Safety Management

NIOSH’s Tools for Safe International Business Travel

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a series of tools to help small businesses keep their employees safe while traveling internationally.

Traveling employee, business trip

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NIOSH launched its Small Business International Travel Resources for safe and healthy international travel and is organized into three stages: pretravel, on-travel, and posttravel.

“Because many small businesses lack human resource staff to plan international work travel needs, the responsibility often falls on owners and managers,” NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, said in an agency statement.

Resources for employers and employees planning international travel assignments include:

  • An employer task timeline, providing a process for planning travel and protecting the business and its employees by identifying key risks, liabilities, and the necessary logistics and communication needs;
  • A travel planner with a checklist that employers can review with their employees specific to their jobs, locations, and personal needs to help manage the risks, liabilities, logistics, and communications while abroad; and
  • A posttravel report that employees can complete to ensure they finish on-site activities and communications and then make the transition to daily life at home.

NIOSH encourages traveling employees to schedule posttravel leave for rest and reorientation upon their return. The new resource also includes a travel health assessment, packing list, and template for an on-location health and safety plan, as well as forms for contact and emergency information and incident reports.

NIOSH also compiled an international work travel resource directory with links to information from other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offices, including advice about vaccines and the CDC’s “Yellow Book” of health information for international travel, as well as resources from other government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Timeline, Travel Planner

The Employer Task Timeline covers the step-by-step actions that small businesses should take before sending employees overseas. Tasks include reviewing company risks and liabilities with an attorney, checking CDC and U.S. State Department alerts about health and safety issues in a host country, and discussing any personal protective equipment (PPE) or other equipment employees must take with them.

Tasks to be completed closer to the travel date include reviewing contingency plans with employees and scheduling check-ins via phone or Skype.

Posttravel tasks include reviewing accomplishments and lessons learned with returning employees along with any incident reports.

The Travel Planner is a more detailed tool to capture information about different conditions, exposures, or hazards at international worksites. Questions in the planner include:

  • Are there differences in health and safety rules the employee must know about?
  • Will there be different hazards and differences in hazard controls, and if so, what information or training will the employee need?
  • Is the PPE used on-site different from the PPE used in the employee’s home job and will the employee need additional PPE training for different equipment?
  • Will the employee need to bring PPE or will PPE be available on-site?
  • Will the employee be carrying any samples of hazardous materials, and if so, what International Airline Transport Association (IATA) requirements apply?
  • Is the employee traveling during hurricane or monsoon season and will the employee need any special emergency plans or training?
  • What medical services are available and will the employee need special health insurance coverage or arrangements for travel clinic services?

The planner also includes financial, legal, and packing lists for employees to complete. It also includes forms that employees can fill out, such as packing lists, contact and emergency information, and incident and posttravel reports.