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As public demonstrations and mass protests become more widespread and frequent, organizations must remain vigilant and proactive to ensure the safety of their workforce.

The Israel and Gaza crisis has heightened security concerns and given rise to an upsurge in social unrest and protests worldwide. In light of this global situation, health and security risk services company International SOS advises organizations to have a robust risk management strategy to safeguard their employees during these challenging times.

On average, the number of protests globally has increased by 11.5% annually since 2009, with the largest concentration of activity in the Middle East and North Africa and the fastest growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa.1 It is also reported that 23% of significant protests have lasted more than three months.2 As public demonstrations and mass protests become more widespread and frequent, organizations must remain vigilant and proactive in their approach to ensuring the safety of their workforces.

“We are witnessing an era marked by geopolitical shifts and perma-crises,” said James Wood, Regional Security Director, International SOS. “This is accompanied by associated mass protests and civil unrest, which can escalate in scale and frequency across continents and countries. In a time when workforce safety is of paramount concern, it is important for employers to understand that the dynamics of social unrest can rapidly evolve and escalate.

“Organizations have a critical role in safeguarding their workforce,” continued Wood. “They can achieve this by taking proactive steps to prioritize risk assessments and implementing effective risk management strategies. During this period of heightened tension, employers should also ensure that their workforces stay informed about the local security situation through official sources. They should also avoid areas with known protests or demonstrations, particularly near embassies, government buildings amid protests linked to the Israel and Gaza crisis.”

5 tips to keep your workforce safe

Here are five security tips for organizations to safeguard their workforces when in crowded places, courtesy of International SOS:

  1. Ensure employees stay informed: Provide employees with up to-date information about potential risks. Regularly assess the security situation by monitoring local news, government advisories, and real-time threat intelligence.
  2. Create an emergency response plan: Develop and communicate a comprehensive emergency response plan for all employees. Ensure that your workforce is well-aware of evacuation procedures and has access to essential emergency contact information.
  3. Encourage vigilance: Remind employees to be alert to suspicious behavior or items and promptly report any unusual incidents or observations to the relevant authorities.
  4. Ensure employees comply with security measures: Anticipate increased security measures in urban centers, especially around key government areas, tourist destinations and public transport hubs. Inform employees to follow all official directives.
  5. Establish a robust crisis communication system: Provide employees with access to stay informed and connected during times of unrest. Utilize multiple communication channels, including mobile apps and SMS alerts, to ensure swift and reliable communication.

1 Center for Strategic & International Studies Risk and Foresight Group | The Age of Mass Protests: Understanding an Escalating Global Trend Report (2020)

2 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | Global Protest Tracker (2023)

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