Health, Safety and Security in study abroad programs are major concerns to international educators, program administrators, advisors and parents/guardians/families of program participants.
Obtaining health, safety and security information prior to departure from Canada is a shared responsibility among participants, program Coordinators and parents/guardians/families.
Ryerson's Due Diligence Policies
Risk assessment is a way of identifying the risks involved in an activity, therefore enabling control measures to be taken in order to reduce these risks.
Ryerson's Due Diligence Policies (http://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/ehss/pdfs/NT/UEHS_GL_005_OffCampus_2011.pdf), including a Travel Risk Assessment Form (http://www.ryerson.ca/ehss/riskmanagement/index.html) can be reviewed online at the Centre for Environmental, Health & Safety Management website.
All students participating in international activity must complete the liability waiver and sumbit it to their own department to be kept on file.
- Liability Waiver Form http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/download/StudentLiabilityWaiver_Feb2010.pdf
Risk Assesment Resources
- Department of Foreign Affairs Canada
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- World Health Organization
Risk & Responsibility:
”Risk is an element of any experiential learning whether at home or abroad. Ensuring that programs are well-run and that both the students and the institution are aware of and accept their responsibilities can go a long way to reducing the likelihood of negative outcomes. “(Myles and Mitchell, 2000)
Worth the Risk: our Approaches to Safety in International Learning:
Any activity involves some risk; however programs which take students away from the familiar environment of the Ryerson campus involve different and often higher risk. The institution has a responsibility to be aware of and manage these risks. The students must be fully informed of what they are getting into and be aware of their own responsibilities to keep themselves safe.
Risk Rules of Thumb:
Although the area of risk and liability management is quite complicated, there are some principles which you might help to guide you in your decisions.
- Duty of Care:
As an institution you have the responsibility to ‘take reasonable care’ to guard against any reasonably foreseeable event that may result in injury.
- Standard of Care:
The standard of care is the level of care that one must exhibit to meet the duty of care mentioned above. The standard of care normally includes everything a reasonable and prudent person would have done in the circumstances. For example, if the hotel where you and your students are staying receives a bomb threat, what would a reasonable and prudent person do? Go back to sleep? Alert the students? Leave the building? Talk with hotel security?
- Fiduciary Duty:
A fiduciary duty is a duty owed by a person in a position of trust; the duty is owed to those who are relying on that person. Your students may, for instance, trust that the institution is taking reasonable care in making decisions on their behalf concerning travel plans, accommodation, modes of transportation, etc.
- Institutional Liability:
An institution�s potential liability increases as the number of decisions made on the students' behalf increases. If students are going on exchange and are given choices about where to live (on or off campus) along with good information about the risks and benefits of each, then the institution is less liable for problems with accommodation than if the institution dictates where the students have to live. However, you cannot reduce all your liability by simply leaving decisions to the students, especially when it can be seen that you had a duty of care to arrange things on their behalf.
- Personal Liability:
As an employee of Ryerson (either faculty or staff) you will most likely be covered by the institution's insurance for legal actions which result from your actions done in the course of your employment. Check with your risk management or insurance office for more information. If, however, your actions are not done in the course of your employment (for example, you were selling illegal drugs to students on your trip), neither the institution nor its insurer would be bound to defend you.
Acknowledgement of the adaptation of materials from DepartSmart produced by the Universities of Guelph, Queens and York. Also a review by John Wilkinson of Weirs and Fould.