Do We Make Too Many Assumptions About Safety?

When involved in conversations about risk-management planning, safety and security for meetings and events, and duty of care, I all-too-often hear troubling statements such as:

  • "That's someone else's area, and I am too busy to even think about that."
  • "I know we use a security firm for our corporate travel, so I assume that covers our meetings and events, too."
  • "I assume that's being covered and handled by our meeting/event management partner."
  • "That's the responsibility of the hotel/venue."

I have heard them all, and it often brings to mind the old saying, "Don't assume anything." The fact is that you and your event could be liable for any damages and potential litigation that might ensue if you do not ensure that appropriate levels of insurance and other protocols/procedures are in place, that attendees and company staff are safe, that appropriate security measures are executed and duty of care, as well as duty to rescue, are implemented.

Great and important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you personally covered by corporate insurance if anything went south and legal litigations materialized?
  2. Have you gotten clarity about coverage parameters from your employer?

These critical questions ensure you can do your job with confidence in knowing that your employer has your back. Ask for specific details about the scope of policy coverage. Even if there is insurance, you cannot assume that it is of an appropriate level that covers all possible scenarios for hosting events and meetings. A lawyer friend of mine gave me some good advice: You can save yourself a lot of time by asking what is NOT covered by your corporate insurance policy, and then seek to remedy those gaps.

As an industry, we need to stop the presumptuous thought that "someone else has this covered." You should be proactively responsible and ask more questions to ensure that indeed all areas are covered. Better to know in advance than to find out later after an incident has occurred.

We recently conducted a duty-of-care/risk-mitigation industry survey and were shocked to find that of all respondents polled, only 16 percent had risk-management policies or processes in place that covered business travel as well as meetings and events, while 55 percent covered business travel only. It gets worse: Only 29 percent had stand-alone risk-management programs in place to directly support meetings and events. Does that sound like "someone else has that covered" to you? Is that another flawed assumption?

Start questioning things with regard to attendee safety and security, plus whether your emergency plans have been tested and updated. You can avoid some serious repercussions by learning upfront what's covered and what is not. Don't assume anything!

I will be speaking a lot more about duty of care and risk management using our survey data and the helpful best practices we've received in collaboration with iJET, a premier integrated risk-management firm. Download a copy of our research paper here.

Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinIwamoto.