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Unique study of emergency evacuation policies wins global recognition

02 Oct 2013

The study by the Business School's Associate Professor Susan McGrath-Champ and Dr Anthony Fee, at UTS, of evacuation plans across three sectors, mining, international aid and media, examined organisations' arrangements for international employees in the event of a crisis including terrorist attack, natural disasters and illness and injury.

Dr McGrath-Champ and Dr Fee specifically focused on the potential for the human resources function within large organisations to play a greater role in policy development and implementation.

"Our research indicates that human resource management could be playing a much more prominent role," said Dr McGrath-Champ. "That role should range from ensuring that only the right people are sent into hazardous environments through to evacuation management, should it be required."

Dr McGrath-Champ said that while all organisations in these sectors were conscious of their 'duty of care', the resources sector had the most formalised evacuation policies and procedures in place.

The aid and media sectors, she said, relied more heavily on the local knowledge and professional skills of the employees themselves. "In order to stay out of harm's way, people working in the aid area are expected to have a tacit knowledge of their environment and the hazards it may hold, backed up by thorough planning," Dr McGrath-Champ said.

"The media sector is similar with the expertise based in the individuals in the field. To a large extent, these individuals, she added, "are expected to gain knowledge from mentors at head office who have returned from hazardous assignments".

The Academy of Management Annual Conference is the world's largest gathering of its kind. This year's event held in Orlando, Florida, attracted more than 8,000 participants.

"Recognition of our work at this level is not only rewarding from a professional point of view but may also lead to life saving improvements in the policies and the procedures of organisations sending employees into hazardous situations," Dr McGrath-Champ concluded.