Responding to a triple threat: How can businesses mitigate risks from monsoon season and regional security concerns, amid the Covid-19 pandemic
As businesses with employees in Asia Pacific aim for a sustainable and safe return-to-work and business travel, International SOS highlights the layered risks of the monsoon season and peak of the Asia Pacific typhoon season. The resurgent threat of COVID-19 is complicating risk responses and businesses may also need enhanced diligence around underlying security issues that the pandemic environment will continue to exacerbate.
Disruptive weather conditions are expected, with the peak of the North-west Pacific typhoon season due to hit the Philippines, coastal China and Japan, and the North Indian cyclone season likely to hit India, Bangladesh and Myanmar from August to October. There is a risk of widespread damage in densely populated areas, as well as potential repercussions for security, such as increased social unrest and petty crime. This may challenge national disaster management capabilities, which are already heavily taxed due to the unprecedented scale of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Aditya Luthra, Security Director, Asia Pacific at International SOS, said, “Businesses should have adequate plans and procedures that are tailored to the needs of their diverse workforce, and can withstand disruptions from multiple concurrent crises. Having had to adapt new working arrangements due to COVID-19, workforce welfare is a key concern now more than ever. For instance, there are now many more remote workers, which can complicate identifying, who might be impacted on the ground and what relocation and medical evacuation procedures are required to ensure their safety.”
Dr David Teo, Regional Medical Director at International SOS, added, “With the unpredictable nature of these concerns, businesses must adopt a flexible and robust business continuity plan that accounts for the most pressing needs and concerns. Where countries and businesses might have previously relied on foreign aid during weather hazards and other challenges, it will be more difficult this year due to flight restrictions, tight border controls and quarantine orders on foreign volunteers. It will be difficult for countries to get assistance from international relief agencies, neighbouring countries within the region or even volunteer medical workers. At the same time, neighbouring countries might also be facing an economic and medical strain, which hampers their ability to provide aid and relief.
“To circumvent these challenges, businesses should update their crisis management plans to account for the new concerns caused by COVID-19, keep all employees informed with the latest medical information and security advice wherever they are, and identify partners with the expertise to provide on-the-ground medical assistance and support whenever needed,” Dr Teo concluded.
International SOS, has shared five top tips on how businesses can stand ready to overcome these challenges:
- Provide security awareness training to management and staff on the ground. Besides ensuring access to accurate and timely information of the on-ground environment, organisations need to educate and equip their workforce with necessary tools to mitigate their exposure to the security risks identified. This includes developing online courses on risk assessment, pandemic preparedness, and personal health and security, to ensure that their on-the-ground workforce knows the best course of action to take, should a security concern arise in their vicinity.
- Develop appropriate responses to civil unrest and demonstrations. In many countries like India, Myanmar, and Indonesia, insurgencies and social protests are often ethnically driven or politically motivated. What businesses should focus on is how these volatilities could affect their business operations and mitigate these threats, instead of developing responses that interfere with these domestic concerns.
- Consult with in-house security and legal experts to monitor implications of newly enacted legislations. In the case of the recent National Security Law in Hong Kong (SAR), organisations with a presence there should understand what the law entails, and how its implementation would impact their business operations and personnel. If necessary, organisations should also conduct profile and context-specific risk assessments for individual activities and employees based there.
- Review existing response capacities to natural disasters. Organisations must be ready and able to track and ensure the safety of their workforce in affected locations, suspend operations at and travel to at-risk locations, and prepare contingency plans for disruptions to power and communications. The workforce should also be educated on the necessary supplies required for sheltering or evacuations from typhoons or cyclones, particularly food, water, personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitiser and disinfectants and how to maintain safe distancing during this time.
- Prepare medical assistance and support whenever needed. Organisations have to ensure that offices have sufficient medical kits available for emergency situations and identify employees that are trained to provide first aid support if necessary.
These tips were also shared in a live webinar organised by International SOS, which featured a panel of country security experts in the region who provided timely updates and advice around the natural disasters hotspots and risk environments in Asia.
Businesses are not alone in their fight against the storms that lie ahead. Leveraging its medical and security expertise, as well as global assistance network, International SOS can help these businesses mitigate the risks arising from multiple crises and adapt to each situation in a flexible and safe manner, while strengthening overall business and workforce resilience, business continuity and sustainability.
Click here to access the post-webinar recording.
Notes to Editors
About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.
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