SMALL BUSINESS INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL RESOURCE: TRAVEL PLANNER
SMALL BUSINESS INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL RESOURCE: TRAVEL PLANNER
The Small Business International Travel Resource: Travel Planner is the first and only occupational travel guidance geared to small organizations. It provides employers with a comprehensive assessment of occupational health and safety risks associated with international work assignments and tools to address them. The guidance aims to help small business employers and managers ensure the safety of their employees before, during, and after their work-related travels. For employees on international work assignments, there are many considerations that may affect their safety and health, and this is particularly relevant for smaller companies with limited resources. Many small businesses lack dedicated safety and human resource staff to plan such trips. This puts more responsibility for safe and healthy employee travel on owners and managers.
The Planner encourages a pre-travel conversation between the employer and employee, an important step in preparing for travel health and safety. The Travel Planner provides checklists for each stage of a trip in three important areas: job, location and personal. Each checklist has questions to help identify risks, considerations and actions that need to be addressed before, during and after an employee’s trip. For example, the pre-travel checklist comprises 30 questions that address preparing for weather, language differences, health concerns, local travel and the potential for natural disasters, among others. The Planner recommends employees review their travel plan upon arriving at their destination and check in with their planner and employer via phone or Skype as conditions change every two to four weeks. Post-travel tasks include reviewing accomplishments and lessons learned with returning employees along with any incident reports.
According to the Small Business Assistance program at NIOSH, there are approximately six million workplaces in the U.S. Eighty-nine percent of them have fewer than 20 employees, and 79% have fewer than 10 employees. Smaller firms dominate every major industrial sector. Of the 127 million plus workers employed in 2016 in the U.S., more than 53% worked in establishments with less than 100 employees. In today’s global marketplace, many of these businesses require international work travel assignments. Providing useful resources is a powerful way to help protect the safety, health and well-being of small business travelers.
The Travel Planner brings scientifically sound guidance to address occupational risk hazards for employees on international work assignments. The tool and website provides checklists to identify job-, location-, and personal-specific needs that require action or planning before departure, and attention during and after travel. The checklists have questions to help identify risks, considerations and actions that need to be addressed for each stage of an international work trip. In addition to checklists, the planner includes a number of tools: an employer task timeline, a travel health assessment, a destination-specific health and safety plan, a packing list, contact and emergency information form, an incident report, and a post-travel report. The Travel Planner networks NIOSH science information and guidance with authoritative resources and provides a framework or model to expand and coordinate accessible science to small business owners on a critical safety and health topic. The tool has resonated well to date with NIOSH and global stakeholders. Accomplishments include:
- Represents a unique network, organized to identify critical resources specifically targeted to small businesses that lack resources or specialized knowledge in international travel.
- Offers opportunities for NIOSH to work with international partners who have approached us about integrating this system with other OSH international travel efforts.
- Provides a cognitively balanced communication model that can be used to improve use and accessibility of OSH information for small business audiences.
Workers traveling to international worksites may face different or unfamiliar working conditions, environmental exposures, or novel hazards. The occupational travel planner addresses a number of potential risks, including occupational, geographic, climate-related, local cultural, and personal risk factors. For example, depending on work duties and location, the employee may require vaccinations, personal protective equipment, specialized training, and preparations for heat or cold stress. Based on personal needs, , the employee may need to bring along prescriptions drugs or prepare for ongoing medical care while away from home. If traveling to multiple locations, the employee may also need region-specific information on weather, air quality, transportation, and security.
The Travel Planner follows the Total Worker Health (TWH) approach to worker well-being. It acknowledges risk factors related to work that contribute to health problems previously considered unrelated to work, and it encourages the employer to assist the employee in planning for personal well-being as part of the travel process. The tool acknowledges that travel can be related to both occupational and personal stressors or illness. New health conditions may occur, and ongoing issues may worsen. The travel planner and its tools provide a TWH approach that assesses all aspects of an international work assignment (job, location, and personal) that may contribute to an employee’s well-being. The Travel Planner provides a strong, sustainable foundational structure on which to expand into more specific tools that might be built with other partners or as NIOSH has resources.
The development of the Travel Planner involved a team of NIOSH occupational safety and health physicians and scientists who were charged with identifying key travel health and safety challenges and risks associated with working abroad. Extensive research was conducted to identify and evaluate authoritative resources on safer, healthier international travel. The project team developed useful risk assessment tools to assist workers and organizations planning travel. Core cognitive communication perspectives were tested with an audience exemplar.
NIOSH Contributors included: Dr. Margaret Kitt, Dr. Kristin Yeoman, Dr. L. Casey Chosewood, Dr. John Piacentino, Dr. Donna Van Bogaert, Dr. John Gibbins, Dr. Leslie Nickels, and Dr. Jeanette Novakovich.
small businesses and their workers who travel internationally