Safety first when sending workers overseas

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Safety first when sending workers overseas

When a company hires new employees, it confirms their English proficiency and the qualifications necessary for overseas travel. But when workers go abroad, there are many more challenges than just language barriers. When safety-related incidents such as illnesses, accidents or crime occur, it affects the company and the country, as well as the individual and the family. Therefore, before traveling or relocating to another country, it is important to research and prepare for various situations and responses that may be different from Korea.

After the Sewol ferry tragedy, Korean companies began to reinforcing safety management, but they mostly focus on safety in the workplace. But what about the employees and their families who are sent to work abroad when they face safety-related issues? Who should they turn to? It was the company’s decision to send employees abroad in order to attain the purpose of the business, so the companies are responsible for prevention and resolution of the concerns arising in foreign environments. In order to prevent problems that may arise due to misunderstandings and ignorance of local culture, companies need to prepare and train their employees before sending them abroad. For example, foreigners are advised to be travel with armed guards at all times in Iraq. But many Korean workers go unarmed and without protection. Who would endure the pain if they become victims of abduction or robbery?

Preparation and investment on safety allows companies to maintain talents and win the trust of customers and the market. The International Organization of Employers clearly states on its website that it is the obligation of employers to inform their employees of various risks and protect them and their dependents on international travel assignments. In an era of global competition, it is not an option but an obligation of the employers to care for the health and safety of employees assigned abroad so that they can feel safe and focus on their job in a foreign country. Moreover, it will bring stability to the organization and develop the business.

*Lee Myung-seob, Branch manager of International SOS Korea

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