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Understanding Duty of Care

Duty of Care has various meanings and principles in different countries. It is gaining traction as a guiding principle among senior executives and as a legal obligation for which organisations must prepare and comply with. You may have heard of this term before but what exactly does it mean?

What is Duty of Care?

According to the International SOS Foundation, Duty of Care, in South Africa, is the primary piece of legislation which generally regulates and provides for an employer’s duty in respect of its employees according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993 (OHSA).

The OHSA places an obligation on employers to identify and reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace and provides for the regulation and monitoring of workplaces. Duty of Care is the responsibility of any individual who has the obligation to conform to a certain standard of conduct for the protection of another against an unreasonable risk of harm.

Duty of care in the workplace

In a number of countries, Duty of Care relates directly to occupational health and safety laws. This means employers need to do everything practical in their power to provide a hazard-free environment and a workplace that is completely safe. Employers are required to provide Duty of Care in the workplace as well as when employees are travelling abroad for business. According to iJet, Employers should;

  1. Provide a safe working environment – this includes when staying in hotels, using rental cars or even what airlines they use for business travel (etc.)

  2. Providing information and instruction on potential hazards and threats

  3. Providing supervision to ensure worker safety

  4. Monitoring the health and safety of employees

  5. Employing qualified persons to provide health and safety advice

  6. Monitoring conditions at all locations under your control and management

  7. Maintaining appropriate employee records to allow for proper implementation

Duty of Care is an important consideration for those involved with Travel Risk Management and Operational Risk Management. These management sectors need to determine precisely which people have Duty of Care and what the legal liabilities are with regards to it in your particular region. This requires a detailed assessment of an organisation’s operations by appropriate experts.

How to implement duty of care

Phase 1: Learn about Duty of Care in the environment you operate in

Organisations should be proactive and do their research on the Duty of Care that applies to their industry and region. It would also be a preferred idea to monitor the trends of it that will offer a clear understanding of the standards surrounding it. The trends will indicate the best practices for both legal obligations as well as trends in the industry.

Phase 2: Assess your current systems to manage Duty of Care

In an organisation, it extends to business trips and employee travels. These conditions put your employees at a higher risk level. A travel risk management profile for a company is an essential component of its Duty of Care assessment.

Why hire an executive protection service

As part of an organisation’s Duty of Care, it is suggested that hiring executive protection is the best solution for employees, especially when travelling. This should not be limited to C-Suite individuals and executives but any employee in your company.

Any employee has the right to Duty of Care at any point in time. This is significant if they’re travelling or meeting clients/ customers on a regular basis. If your employees are meeting with individuals off of the company’s premises, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure that they are safe before, during and after this meeting. We’ve heard stories of female employees meeting unknown clients and finding themselves in incredibly uncomfortable and dangerous situations. An executive protection officer will ensure your employees are safe while travelling to and from the meeting while ensuring your employee is kept out of harm’s way for the entire meeting process.

duty of care

An executive protection team is ideal for high profile individuals at your company as well. The executive protection team have the ability to assess the risks that are associated with this high profile individual to determine the level of security needed. This way it can be determined whether or not full-time protection is necessary or if only secure travel management is needed.

If you’re looking at expanding your business, either to another region in your country or even overseas, an executive protection team can do a thorough assessment of the area you plan on expanding to. This way you can anticipate what risks may affect you and your employees, it also helps you decide if the area in which you want to move to is a viable and safe option.

Duty of Care is a vital component in an organisation and the legal obligations of this can be serious, especially if your employees are put at risk. If you feel like you are not covered for this in your organisation, contact us. We can offer a comprehensive assessment and implement an effective Duty of Care profile for your company.

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