Managing Health Risk Among Traveling Employees

Posted on Mar 03, 2017

When it comes to travel risk management, it's often the high-profile events that take up much of an organization's concern and time. Preparing for the worst is an integral part of any worldwide corporation's job when considering the safety of employees during business travel. But general health risks can often be an oversight, and as a recent string of studies has shown, dangers in our mass transit transportation system exist in ways both exotic and common.

Travel Risk Management | Health Risk & Traveling Employees</ Some health risks are amplified by simply traveling often and for long physical distances, as a study by Martin Schwellnus published in British Journal of Sports Medicine recently showed. Schwellnus closely studied 200 professional rugby players from New Zealand and South Africa and found that those traveling over five time zones were two or three times more likely to obtain some sort of illness than players who traveled more locally. The majority of these illnesses were respiratory infections of one sort or another. In the U.S., the National Basketball Association has found fatigue to be an issue that leads to increased injuries, as most NBA teams travel a reported 44,214 miles a season on average.

Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, has run studies recently showing high germ levels on commercial airlines, particularly in bathrooms and headrests. He noted that planes are not disinfected between one arrival and another departure, leading to an environment with a higher likelihood of  transmittable germs.

Your employees will almost certainly have to deal with both travel distance and a close proximity to large groups of people when traveling for business. Some very simple steps can be taken to mitigate some of the health risks, however, and by integrating this into a general travel risk assessment and education, you can lower the odds of sick employees.

  • Manage stress and sleep: When stressed and not well rested, the body is at a higher vulnerability to illness. These are two states a weary business traveler is commonly in, but they
    can be reduced. Try to schedule employee travel and destination meeting schedules with proper rest in mind.
  • Use sanitizers: Especially on planes and trains, simple hand sanitizers have been shown to cut infection rates in travelers by 50%. Hand sanitizer is a useful and effortless tool that can reduce travel risk without a lot of hassle.
  • Know your regions: Finally, every location will have health risks specific to the area. Researching these beforehand, as well as coming up with effective measures to avoid them, should be a high priority for any well-managed organization.

By providing your employees with straightforward travel risk assessments in regards to healthcare, you'll go a long way toward improving and promoting employee welfare in your organization.

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