14 November 2002 | David Arminas
Travel managers who fail to involve themselves in risk assessment are in dereliction of their duty, according to Robert Daykin, senior partner of consultancy The Corporate Travel Partnership.
Daykin told delegates to the Corporate Travel and Meetings Forum, on board the cruise ship Oriana, that travel managers must ensure they are included in any risk assessment activities, no matter which department is carrying them out.
Risk assessment against terrorism and heath problems often lies within a large company's occupational health, human resources or security departments. Travel managers needed to work with them, he said.
"Passing the buck doesn't wash. If you know there might be something that can harm employees and don't speak up or get involved in risk assessment, then as a responsible manager within the business you are as culpable as other departments that had the responsibility and missed it," he told SM.
The Health and Safety Act 1974 states that a company has a duty to inform employees about travel dangers, and employees also have a duty to keep themselves informed.
But since the 11 September attacks in the US last year, there has been concern that injured staff may sue their employers.
Daykin said that from a legal and professional standpoint, travel managers must prove they did their best to bring the subject to the attention of senior management.
Magali Borthwick, travel co-ordinator at Honda Racing in the UK, agreed that some companies were unclear on where the responsibility lay for carrying out risk assessment.
"Honda Racing is well organised in this way because my boss is also the HR manager. We are doing a risk assessment at this moment," she said.
"Some companies will check an employee's work station for correct chair height and distance from their computer screen. However, nobody will check how many hours that same person will be flying in a year."
A purchaser from a major IT firm asked whether travel managers could force overweight, unhealthy staff, who fly often, to have health checks for susceptability to medical problems such as deep-vein thrombosis.