Travel Expense Management: Your Travel Safety Compliance or Negligence Report?


Business Travel ExpenseProof of travel safety or negligenceimageIntelligent Travel
 

Has business travel expense
management become the new proof of travel safety and duty of care, or
negligence? What your business spends and where, along with travel
expenses claimed by your travellers contributes to your proof of
compliance/guilt.

Travel Safety Proof

Travel is not the only business activity that consumes or creates
expenditure across numerous verticals within a business, but it is still
one of the few that still overlooks the evidence created by the
activity and how it relates to workplace health and safety. In other
words, how you prioritise safety, what you spend and evidence of
compliance/negligence can all be found in business travel expense
reports. And this evidence or practice can be used for either legal
defence or prosecution if not correctly managed, not to mention the risk
business travellers are exposed to as a result.

 Business Travel ExpenseProof of travel safety or negligenceimageIntelligent Travel

Travel Safety Analysis

Consider a typical business travel event or journey, that consists of
3 days international travel, accommodation, business activities and
various sundries. Because all of this expenditure appears neatly on a
post-travel expense report or even a pre-travel approval forecast, we
can see where the money goes and the “value” of each item. This now
gives us a great insight into variations and costs for each product,
service or resource consumed within the journey. But this is where it
gets interesting. When it comes to health and safety, which is where the
notion of “duty of care” resides, there is consideration for whether a
cost for provision of safety and control measures was ‘acceptable’ or
prohibitive. For example, personal protective equipment [PPE] is used
the world over and while cost of purchase may vary due to economy of
scale or local procurement costs, you are unlikely to be found to be
compliant or genuinely contributing to health and safety of your
personnel if you gave them paper tissue hats and basketball shoes and
called it PPE for the purposes of safety and protection from hazards in
the environments where PPE is required. But what about travel safety?

Breadcrumbs Lead To…

Is there a formula, cost centre, expenditure tracking or investment
model for travel safety, for each and every journey made? Given that so
many other elements, from salary, business/commercial costs,
accommodation, flights, meals and even communications are tracked,
where/when is travel safety expenditure considered? Do you, as a
business, know exactly how much you spend, and on what and why, for
each business trip that is undertaken, as it relates to safety? Why not? You will be asked to demonstrate or prove it if contested, investigated or prosecuted.

Umbrella or One-Size-Fits-All Expenditure

You are facing a court of law and victims of a tragedy. You are
asked, in your defence, to explain why there was loss of life on your
business premises due to a fire, when the regulations require smoke
detectors, fire extinguishers and emergency exits. Your response is
“Well, we have invested a lot of money across the company and on average
we are happy that our business premises meet regulation and have the
necessary fixtures and resources required”. Simple photographic evidence
is then produced, that shows while your statement is factual as to
expenditure, the specific location in question had none of these
resources nor fixtures and the resulting fire lead to the death of those
trapped and unable to contain/fight the fire. Your response
[remembering that safety negligence cases are typically criminal in
nature] is “we have a company safety policy, we take it very seriously
and we have spent a lot of money to protect our premises and people,
perhaps just not in this case, at this location, for these specific
people, for that specific event”. Perhaps there are more instances of
these oversights, despite the all-up costs incurred? Do you see how
concerning and reckless this scenario is? Substitute this for business
travel, and many businesses have this very same exposure and risk due to
their “one-size=fits-all” approach, just not any specific person,
journey nor destination. Furthermore,  your business expense report
helps prove it as there isn’t even any costs for “PPE”, job specific
travel safety expenditure. This applies to travel insurance too.

Advice

As per safety regulations/legislation and risk management standards, relatively consistent around the world, apply travel safety on a “per person, per journey and per destination” basis.
Itemise your expenditure for each journey, and identify the exact
amount apportioned to travel health, safety, security and risk
management. Not in preparation for a legal defence but that is what is
actually required. If upon examination you discover that you are
spending just $1 for a million dollar asset [traveller, business
opportunity, etc], then you may find you have a significant single or
annual risk of loss, injury or litigation in the event of a negative
event. Regardless of how “duty of care” ready you think you
might be. As you can see, it is a pretty simple and straightforward
process for employees, victims and lawyers to “measure” just how
effective your travel safety or travel risk management systems really
are, which may also void your insurance for both the business and the
traveller. See more at Intelligent Travel.

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About Tony Ridley
Travel health, safety, security and risk management expert.

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