Protecting employees in danger zones

High-risk markets offer rich opportunities, but employees must be properly prepared to avoid dangerous situations
By Craig Malcolm
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/20/2007

It can be a scary world out there for employees, especially ones on foreign assignments. While Canadian workplaces and cities are typically considered safe, the same cannot be said for many locations where North American firms are doing business.

Bombings, kidnappings and extortion are far too common in some extreme hot spots. But even nations traditionally considered safe aren’t immune from danger. Since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, there has been a heightened concern about terrorism worldwide. From bombings in Bali, London and Madrid to abductions in South America, Africa and the Middle East, the world can seem like a pretty unstable place to conduct business.

But there are steps employers can take when it comes to protecting employees and their families who are on assignment in dangerous zones. Most HR professionals have the processes for navigating labour laws, compensation plans and relocation arrangements for sending employees to work in foreign countries down pat. But they need to be prepared to go to the next level, and help physically protect employees, when the company decides to do business in these so-called “hot spots” or “high-risk markets” where danger is a constant, rather than occasional, factor and carelessness or simple mistakes can cost lives.