Introduction: Travel Risk Management and Foreseeable Risk
When it comes to foreseeable risk, foreseeability and travel risk management, this is what every travel, human resources and manager should know. In this article we will cover foreseeable risk, foreseeability, hazard identification and travel risk assessments to mitigate or eliminate the risk of travel and comply with the company’s social objectives and legal obligations. By reading this article you will be able to confirm the true meaning of foreseeable risk as it relates to travel risk management and determine if you and your company truly have a demonstrable travel risk management system that complies with your social and legal duty of care objectives.
The first point is to clarify as the the legal definition of foreseeable risk.
Foreseeable Risk and Foreseeability Defined
Foreseeable risk is defined as a danger, hazard or threat which a reasonable person should anticipate as the result from his/her actions. Foreseeable risk is a common affirmative defense put up as a response by defendants in lawsuits for negligence. A skateboarder hits a bump on a road, falls and breaks his wrist. This is a foreseeable risk of skateboarding. A woman is severely injured while flying on an aircraft when the the aircraft suddenly descends due to turbulence and she hits her head on the over head luggage compartment. While there is potential risk, she had the right to anticipate that the aircraft was properly maintained, the pilot aware of the approaching weather conditions and did not assume the risk that her seatbelt would fail. Signs that warn “use at your own risk” do not bar lawsuits for risks that are not foreseeable.
Foreseeability is the facility to perceive, know in advance, or reasonably anticipate that damage or injury will probably ensue from acts or omissions.
In the law of negligence, the foreseeability aspect of proximate cause—the event which is the primary cause of the injury—is established by proof that the actor, as a person of ordinary intelligence and circumspection, should reasonably have foreseen that his or her negligent act would imperil others, whether by the event that transpired or some similar occurrence, and regardless of what the actor surmised would happen in regard to the actual event or the manner of causation of injuries.
Hazard, Threat and Dangers Identification
An officer of the company must demonstrate the process and implementation, whereby any person of ordinary intelligence can identify, document and in advance mitigate or eliminate dangers, threats and hazards that would ordinarily imperil a business traveler. Policies and notification that warn business travellers of risk do not bar legal recourse, even if the events were not foreseeable.
Forward planning supported by past incident capture and analysis aid in this process. Generic, global or regional identifications are inadequate with specific locations, actions, competencies and supporting elements required in order to reasonably anticipate in advance any damage or injury that may ensue from acts or omissions. This process should be continuous and timely. Obligations are not limited to what the actor surmised would happen in regard to the actual event or the manner of causation of injuries.
Travel Risk Assessments
The analysis and assessment of business travel related threats must be evidence based and cannot be fully outsourced to providers or third parties as the business comprehension and obligation remains with the person/s within the company charged with the authority and responsibility of duty of care for business travellers.
Collection, processing, analysis and distribution of travel risk management elements such as traveler, location, past event, current circumstances, special events, forecasted changes and business activity must be inclusive of the process.
Consistency and clarity of travel risk assessments are required if the process is to be replicatable, transferable and applicable for any and all business travel.
Travel threats, danger and hazards relative to business travelers must be distinct and focused exclusively on business travellers and the act of business travel and not bundled with broader business risk assessments.
Similar and exact acts related to business travel and travel threats must be evaluated for relevance and impact. Leisure travel threats may need to be considered also if proximate to business travel locations and business travellers. Regardless of what the company officer surmised would happen or the event that transpired, along with similar occurrences, proof of process and outcomes are required.
Conclusion: Travel Risk Management and Foreseeable Risk
Now that you understand the importance of foreseeable risk as defined by legal opinions, you will probably see your approach and effectiveness in a whole new light. Foreseeable risk and foreseeability does apply to business travel risk management and your business travellers. In order to prove or effectively demonstrate travel risk management foreseeable risk actions you need consistent, auditable and effective evidence if you are to mitigate or eliminate the risks associated with business travel, convey confidence to business travellers that you are proactively fulfilling your duty of care and defend or confirm your compliance with the various acts and legislation. Objectively review your current preparedness and processes specific to travel risk management and use this advice to make your comparison and rectify any omissions to your processes immediately.