The coronavirus pandemic motivated companies across the globe to update their organizational security plans. Company security plans are all-compassing documents, often consisting of other organizational protocols like emergency action plans (EAPs), standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety measures.
For businesses and organizations of all sizes, a company security plan is a must-have, especially given the impact of the pandemic. While some businesses only had to make minor changes to SOPs and safety measures, other organizations found themselves in unprecedented territory, with little to no framework in place to guide major workforce changes.
As travel starts to return and businesses begin to return to full operation, the idea of a company security plan with EAPs and SOPs may seem far too complex. Perhaps all that is needed are additional safety measures to get back up and running? Not exactly.
While safety measures can be critical components of a larger security plan, they are often confused with SOPs.
SOPs and Safety Measures
Much like safety measures, SOPs are designed to prevent emergencies and while some SOPs are safety measures, some are not.
“Safety measures are usually standard operating procedures within an organization, but all standard operating procedures are not safety measures,” said Harding Bush, associate manager of operations at Global Rescue. “For example, a company can have a standard operating procedure for processing client information – but this is not a safety measure. A standard operating procedure for bad weather is a safety measure.”
SOPs are a step-by-step set of instructions guiding employees to perform tasks in a consistent manner.
“Parking, entering the building, logging on to a computer, how e-mails are sent and how transactions are conducted — these are a few examples,” Bush said. “Most of these procedures become second nature and are ingrained into the culture of the organization. Any deviation is easy to address and correct.”
During the pandemic, companies instituted standard operating procedures (stay home if you are sick) as well as safety measures (take your temperature upon entry to the workplace) to mitigate health and safety related risks.
Risk management isn’t a one-time action though. It’s a continuous evaluation process as the pandemic ebbs and wanes, which means organizations must constantly update their existing protocols and procedures.
Safety measures are not just internal protection measures for employees — they also protect clients, vendors, visitors and the local community.
Consider the travel industry. The U.S. Travel Association describes the travel ecosystem as a journey with many parts: air travel, transportation, lodging, vacation rentals, dining, attractions and entertainment. Travelers, as they encounter each part of the ecosystem, experience various safety procedures and each safety measure has an impact on the world at large.
Here are some examples.
Coronavirus testing upon departure and upon arrival. Self-isolation or quarantine requirements after travel. Curfews on nights and weekends.
These are just a few of the safety measures destinations, countries, counties, islands and capital cities have put in place during the pandemic. Many more have taken an additional step to be certified as a safe destination.
The World Travel & Tourism Council offers a SafeTravels Stamp so travelers can “recognize destinations and businesses around the world which have adopted the SafeTravels health and hygiene global standardized protocols.” The protocols have been developed using CDC and WHO guidelines and are updated frequently.
Los Cabos, Mexico became the first VERIFIED travel destination in April 2021 through a program with a digital health company and travel guide. The designation means the location has “verified their health protocols on an ongoing basis across more than 360 expert-validated standards to minimize the risk and impact of public health events such as COVID-19.”
The Icelandic Tourist Board — in conjunction with the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue, The Icelandic Tourist Industry Association and the Iceland Tourist Guide Association — complied strict guidelines for tour operators and travel agencies. These regulations cover a wide variety of topics from safety plans to risk assessments as well as recommendations for specific activities, such as dog sledding, glacier guiding and driving excursions.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to develop guidelines and in-depth protocols for adventure activities. Examples include increased social distancing for cyclists following each other, cautions about interacting with nongroup members on hiking trails and masks worn on rafting trips due to guest proximity.
Many tour operators and travel designers have developed safety measures of their own: travel pods or travel bubbles, private transportation, coronavirus testing logistics and local medical care, if necessary. The Travel Corporation has also added “well-being directors” to ensure guests, staff and suppliers are following coronavirus safety guidelines.
Transportation and Lodging
Airports were the first to place social distancing markers on the floor, implement touchless solutions and conduct on-site rapid tests for COVID-19.
Hotels, providing temporary living space for coronavirus health care workers in the early days of the pandemic, were quick to implement hand sanitizer stations, protective barriers, socially distanced public areas, sanitization of high-touch points, health checks for staff and ongoing training for the latest cleanliness standards.
“At our Ndutu Safari Lodge in Tanzania, I prepared a checklist for our staff members following Tanzania’s national standard operating procedures,” said Valentina Vallinotto of v-adventures in New York and a Global Rescue Safe Travel partner.
In Montana, Safe Travel partner Downing Mountain Lodge is following CDC and state guidelines for allowing travelers to visit.
“Downing Mountain Lodge is a fabulous place to practice social distancing, but guests must have been practicing diligent behavior prior to arrival,” said Owner John Lehrman. “In the unprecedented times that we face today, staying safe and alert to the dangers of travel is real.”
Eating at a restaurant isn’t only about the food, it’s about enjoying service, ambiance, a new cuisine or old favorite food and time with family and friends. With seating capacities in the hundreds and tables clustered together, the pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments in the United States closed for business either temporarily or permanently last year, with nearly 2.5 million jobs erased from pre-pandemic levels.
Those remaining have implemented a wide array of safety measures, from online ordering to no-contact food pick-up and delivery options as well as and guest book sign-ins for contact tracing.
The FDA has provided Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the National Restaurant Association’s COVID-19 Re-opening Guidance as guidelines for restaurants operating during the pandemic.
According to Patrick Guzzle, vice president of food science and industry with the National Restaurant Association, safety protocols do not change after employees are vaccinated.
“The CDC still recommends six feet of separation where possible, frequent handwashing and wearing face masks. Everyone should follow those rules, even if they’re vaccinated,” he told industry food and operation safety experts.
How Global Rescue Can Help
If your organization is lacking safety measures, the security experts at Global Rescue can help. This could include a broad range of services, from reviewing standard operating procedures to developing a full security plan, or providing a situational briefing and assessment for an upcoming international trip.
Global Rescue memberships are also critical services for tour operators, travel companies and travel designers. Both clients and employees have access to medical evacuation, advisory and field rescue services. Click here to learn more about our travel services membership.
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