Health and Safety Obligations for a Mobile Workforce

IDC expects that by 2020 almost three quarters – 73 per cent – of the world’s workforce will be mobile. That’s a staggering increase over where it is today at 37 per cent, and while the trend is so staggering because mobility is of benefit to employer and employee alike, it will also prove to be significantly disruptive to the business if not handled well.

A lot is written about how businesses should manage a mobile workforce in order to ensure that productivity, efficiency and accountability are maintained or enhanced. Part of the conversation that needs to be had, but is often lost among the other discussions, is that an employer’s responsibility to its employee’s health and safety doesn’t change, whether the employee is in the office or on the road.

This is significant. Employees working in remote areas are exposed to a different set of health and safety risks than those at a desk in their office. Employees that spend a lot of time travelling – especially internationally – run with heightened risks of terror attacks. Employees spending a lot of time on the road have a heightened risk of fatigue leading to a car accident.

A Solution for Health and Safety Obligations

It is important that employers develop a robust solution to monitor their employee’s health and well-being while at work, regardless of where they are, without compromising their privacy. To do that, the employer needs to understand what the movement of each employee is like, and then adopt policies that respond to any health and safety risks that might arise. The adoption of GPS technology, as well as robust fatigue management programs and active check-in technology can all help the employer meet its obligations to the staff.

It is important to note that this is not just good practice, it’s often legislated. In January 2014 the Australian WHS Legislation for Managing Remote and Isolated Workers came into effect, and has required organisations to review and implement solutions to achieve compliance.

It’s easier to achieve compliance when an entire staff team is collected in the one place, but that’s not in fitting with the future of work. A mobile, nimble workforce is an inevitability that businesses need to recognise, or else run the risk of being outpaced by their competitors. However, even putting aside the legal responsibility, simple best-practice will tell you that an employer should be looking out for their team members’ safety and wellbeing while on the job.

Minimise Travel Risks

If your employees travel for work, you are responsible for their safety. Take a look at how you can effectively monitor your mobile workforce.

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