Make Sure You Protect Your Workers Overseas

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Protecting workers here in Canada is a challenging enough task. But if your company also has employees working in other countries, its duty to ensure their health and safety doesn’t end at the border. And protecting workers overseas can pose even more challenges than protecting them here.

For example, a federal review recently recommended better security and awareness training for personnel posted abroad after an employee at Canada’s High Commission in Nairobi was killed during a terrorist attack on a shopping mall.

On Sept. 21, 2013, al-Shabab gunmen attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Among those murdered was Annemarie Desloges, a Citizenship and Immigration Canada foreign service officer on assignment with the Canada Border Services Agency at the high commission.

For missions such as Nairobi, where the high hardship level is largely a reflection of the security situation, personnel “are being made aware of the risks associated with working in difficult operating environments through the training they receive and the overall preparations they conduct prior to departing for the post,” said the review.

The internal review also called for re-examination of the overall plan for responding to critical incidents overseas involving federal personnel.

So what can employers do to protect workers abroad?

One thing employers are using is online tracking tools or services so they can locate and contact workers in emergencies, such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters, when relying on cell phone service may not be possible or sufficient.

For more advice, here are 10 tips for ensuring the safety of Canadian workers abroad.