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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Emerging Markets Workplace Safety

When a typical person from the developed world asks me about risk management practices in the emerging markets, I have this sense they just don't quite grasp what we are dealing with much of the time as risk managers. Over the years I have amassed some of the most incredible and unbelievable stories of dysfunction, yet ... society kind of works it all out pieced together by a thread. Much of the madness that goes on is unfathomable unless you see it with your own eyes, if you are looking out for it that is.

Just as a typical example; on my way to a risk management meeting of all things with a bank this morning, I was presented with a couple of images which starkly represent what I mean when I say risk management in the emerging markets has its challenges.

Risk is everywhere
Most of the risk work I do is in the markets, banking, finance, trading and so on but becoming a risk manager kind of trains us to be on the lookout all the time for anomalies and causal factors, threats if you prefer that potentially could drive undesirable effects. This 'radar' risk managers seem to develop is a bit obsessive, it's always on and within a handful of minutes through my journey across congested traffic conditions that transcends the novel meaning of the word 'congestion', I was presented with the following.


You have to be kidding me; this is enterprising without any doubt and what a phenomenal office, how intuitive is this, who needs to pay rent?  There we have it, a group of guys sitting at tables with their paperwork and laptops, connected to the mobile data network and protected from the scorching sun by of all things, a freeway overpass. Forget Cyber Risk or Business Continuity Planning, compliance and other mundane matters of the developed world, we have real problems here. Wind blowing trade papers across the road is a far bigger concern and then your customers, well they have to cross that road to deal with you.

Then there is this ...


As a risk manager or Occupational Workplace Safety practitioner, how many uncontrolled risks can you see in this image is beyond the obvious.  Notwithstanding the safety barrier, a piece of tape tied to a bollard for what it's worth, is falling into the excavation pit.  The other side of the photograph is even worse, the easement has a few sticks and brush to warn any passerby that what lies ahead is a hazard. There are more threats on this site and for sure, different places in the world have alternate definitions for the word 'safe' and 'standard' but what I see here is neither of these things.

If this image was captured in Australia, Safe Work Australia (a government agency) would have the owner of this property charged but that's the developed world and in my opinion we have a long way to come globally before 'safety' takes on some representation of 'standard'.

It is what we are presented with, the real world, the developing world where risk management standards such as ISO 31000 can really make their mark and the sooner the better in my opinion.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! I run a business intelligence firm and all of our work is in emerging markets. We routinely do site visits to shopping malls with handwritten "OPEN" signs slapped on plastic sheeting covering a doorway, empty offices with a filing cabinet in the corner, and stores operated out of someone's living room. While different cultures mean businesses operate differently, US firms must make sure they do the foot work to ensure good risk management no matter what or where the situation is.

    Thanks for showing us these gems! Kate Horn, CEO, Foglamp Research Corp.

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