The World Risk Index 2022, an annual report that assesses the disaster risk for 193 countries, ranked the Philippines as the top country with the highest disaster risk worldwide, followed by India and Indonesia. As one of the largest archipelago countries in the world, the Philippines is geographically part of the Pacific Ring of Fire that is prone to experiencing major earthquakes and typhoons. With this in view, there is a risk of widespread infrastructure damage in densely populated areas, as well as potential security repercussions, such as increased social unrest, transportation concerns, and petty crime. This will prove to be a challenge for organisations to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the face of natural calamities in the nation.
Robert Villamor, CSP, Security Manager for Asia at International SOS Philippines comments
Companies must have adequate plans and procedures that are tailored to the needs of their varied workforce. It is advisable that these plans be tested on a regular basis and adjusted as necessary with every encounter with a natural calamity to withstand disruption from multiple concurrent crises. The regularity of typhoons, floods, and earthquakes in the Philippines is an indicator that these natural hazards (though unpredictable) can be prepared for in advance. In a typhoon, for instance, communication channels and evacuation plans for remote workers who might be impacted on the ground, must be in place ahead of time to ensure smooth communications on next steps for relocation and medical evacuation as necessary.Dr David Teo, Regional Medical Director at International SOS, added,
With the unpredictable nature of these risks, businesses must adopt a flexible and robust business continuity plan that accounts for the most pressing needs and concerns of their workforce. It is crucial for companies to update their crisis management plans to account for the potential escalation of a natural hazard to a medical incident. In the aftermath of tropical storms and typhoons, extensive flooding can spread infectious diseases.
Common illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and gastroenteritis can be contracted through contaminated food and water. At the same time, mosquito-borne ailments such as dengue fever and chikungunya disease also pose a risk. Additionally, skin infections like fungal infections may arise. This is especially concerning as healthcare access in impacted areas may be challenging. Thus, individuals with chronic illnesses requiring medical attention are advised to keep a two-week supply of prescribed medications on hand.
International SOS shares five top tips on how businesses can prepare 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, natural calamity 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, Indonesia, and Philippines, 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.
- 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.
- Prepare medical assistance and support whenever needed. Organisations must ensure that offices have sufficient medical kits available for emergency situations and identify employees that are trained to provide first aid support if necessary.
- Revisit existing plans and protocols for your travelling population. The Risk Outlook 2023 reported that while international travel is now at 83% of pre-COVID volumes, travellers want more support from their organisation with their trips and are twice as likely to call for advice and assistance. As travel disruptions are a direct consequence of natural calamities, companies must ensure that their business travellers are prepared before travelling and have access to flexible itineraries and necessary support when a travel delay is inevitable.
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.
Download the infographic on how to prepare your workforce from natural calamities here.
About the International SOS Group of CompaniesThe 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.
Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by more than 9,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune 500, as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 13,000 multicultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.
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