Tag Archives: Ebola

Institute of Risk Management experts outline key risk areas for 2015

Political instability caused by low oil prices, increased shareholder activism and the business threat posed by a potential UK exit from the EU are among the chief concerns voiced by some of the UK’s leading risk experts for 2015.

As 2014 draws to a close, members of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) were asked to identify key risk areas for 2015. A broad range of oil and gas, political, healthcare, regulatory and insurance risks were highlighted as potential flashpoints.

Oil and Gas

“The lower oil price will raise a number of risks, including political and social disruption in oil producing countries which, if not successfully managed, will impact on the world,” asserted Mark Boult, Fellow of the IRM and director at risk management consultancy DNV GL.

Boult continued: “Given the greater financial pressure we will see on the sector next year, stakeholders need to maintain their focus on the integrity of assets. Not doing so will deliver poorer reliability and increase the risks of a major accident. Industry and Governments should work together to proactively manage down the commercial pressures and risks facing the industry from the oil price drop.”

A catastrophic major accident and physical asset integrity will remain a major industry focus for next year. “Such events are always – and always need to be – at the front of our minds given the impact they have on people, the environment and the business of the industry as a whole,” explained Boult.

Commentators from the IRM have mapped out key potential risks for 2015

Commentators from the IRM have mapped out key potential risks for 2015

Politics

An uncertain political environment in the UK is highlighted as a key risk area for next year by IRM members. “We need to watch closely how the dialogue between the UK and EU develops,” said José Morago, IRM chairman and group risk director at Aviva. “The potential risk of a UK exit from the EU could bring about even bigger strategic, operational and legal risk challenges to many international companies than those raised by Scottish independence.”

Morago added: “Next year, we have the UK General Election and possible presidential elections in Europe. With continuing fiscal deficits, cost of living pressures, low investment returns and low public trust in financial institutions, there’s a real risk of further – and bolder – political announcements as parties compete for public approval.”

Mark Butterworth, member of the IRM and managing director at risk management consultancy Condie Risk, believes the unpredictability of next year’s UK General Election is unique in his adult memory. Butterworth argues that a vote to leave the EU could provide the Scottish National Party with a boost, “possibly leading to the start of the ‘second’ wave for independence.”

Alternatively, an indecisive result in a May election which fails to resolve ‘the European question’ could lead to “upheaval, forcing a second General Election in late 2015, with all the attendant uncertainty that entails.”

Healthcare

The total number of Ebola deaths is predicted to peak in 2015 according to Patrick Keady FIRM, risk leadership consultant with the NHS. “This will be achieved by continuing with current levels of awareness, actions and plans and by Governments avoiding ineffective knee-jerk reactions. Lessons will be learned from Sierra Leone’s handling of the crisis where 21% of people infected died compared to 60% in Guinea and 42% in Liberia.”

Further 2015 predictions by Keady are as follows:
• “It will be the year more people will say ‘No’ to so-called ‘healthy food’, leading to reduced demand for healthcare in the long term. People can consume up to seven times the World Health Organisation’s daily recommended amount of sugar when their diet is limited to foods such as low fat yoghurts, muesli bars and sports drinks. The debate about processed versus natural food will escalate with the launch of ‘That Sugar Film’ next year.”
• “Drugs and alcohol will both start to be seen as healthcare issues. With 9% of all emergency hospital care being for people with a drug or alcohol problem, 36% of these are from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. An increased focus on the health implications of drugs and alcohol will start to benefit the population and, in turn, reduce drug and alcohol-related crime statistics.”

Regulation

According to IRM commentators, new regulation is going to pose risks for companies and company directors in 2015.

Taken together, the 2014 UK Corporate Governance Code and Financial Reporting Council’s Guidance on Risk Management will significantly upgrade the weaponry of shareholder activism in 2015. “Greater corporate governance and risk management education at Board level – including Company Secretaries – will be needed to mitigate against the risk posed by the new regulatory environment,” stated Mark Butterworth.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s drive for greater competence and capability means that Boards of Directors must be far more proactive about ensuring their capabilities match their needs. José Morago commented: “Boards need to identify governance gaps and plug them fast, whether that’s through acquiring new skills, qualifications or experience. What’s expected from Boards is going to be raised quite fast next year.”

Insurance

Reduced profitability for the UK insurance sector is an identifiable risk for 2015 according to Enrico Bertagna, IRM affiliate and senior vice-president of business development at Allied World Europe Insurance.

“If there’s no material change in claims trends or major catastrophes,” outlined Bertagna, “we’re looking at ongoing downward pressure on premium rates, reducing underwriting profits in most classes of business.”

Bertagna also believes we’re likely to see a trend towards the localisation of risk in 2015. “We’ll see less premium flowing to London from emerging markets. That will lead to reduced premium to London market insurers on the one hand, while potentially exposing local market insurers to greater volatility on the other.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Risk UK News

‘Ebola – Driving a greater need for video tracking at airports’ (Guest Blog by Jamie Wilson, NICE Systems)

In the last few weeks, management teams at airports around the world have been forced to take fairly drastic action to help safeguard against the spread of Ebola, writes Jamie Wilson. Screening programmes are being introduced to quell public concern and reduce the risk of those individuals exhibiting symptoms from entering a given country without further testing.

An individual may incubate Ebola for many days before exhibiting symptoms but, once a positive diagnosis is confirmed, time is of the essence in retracing that person’s contact with others. Accurate and timely information can help to assess the broader risk and, more importantly, prevent the disease from proliferating still further.

Of course, in an airport environment one source of vital information is the flight manifest, but what about the people who may have come into direct contact with the subject after that?

What about the official who greeted the person at border control? Or the on-site coffee shop worker who sold the individual an Americano and a sandwich?

Then there’s the Bureau de Change operator who exchanged currency for the passenger, and the driver of the airport shuttle bus who transferred 75 people – including the affected individual – from the terminal to the airport car parks.

It would be virtually impossible to retrace the person’s footsteps without trawling through hours and hours of CCTV footage, particularly so when you’re considering a large, sprawling environment such as an airport – which are small towns in their own right – where CCTV cameras are ubiquitous.

How would an investigator know where to look, or even what they were looking for? Quite literally, it would be a task akin to searching for a needle in a haystack.

Jamie Wilson of NICE Systems

Jamie Wilson of NICE Systems

This is where real-time video forensics can greatly assist the authorities. Using the latest technologies, it’s possible to locate a person of interest and retrace his or her movements across a surveillance network in mere minutes. Those results can then be viewed on a map. Links to related video footage then show all other individuals with whom the person came into contact.

The Ebola threat is still evolving, but it’s very clear that airport management teams and front line staff will have a critical role to play in preventing this deadly disease from spreading across borders.

As news reports have already shown, not all solutions are likely to be completely foolproof, but airport management teams can – and should – use every tool at their disposal in order to help control and contain the present threat.

Jamie Wilson is Security Marketing Manager (EMEA) at NICE Systems

Leave a comment

Filed under Risk UK News

Pilgrims Group supports the fight against Ebola at home and abroad

The Pilgrims Group is appearing on ITV’s Tonight programme at 7.30 pm this evening. The topic of discussion? ‘Is the UK prepared for the arrival of Ebola?’

The international security and risk specialist is helping organisations protect themselves from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The company’s teams are also supporting efforts to prevent the spread of the disease to the UK.

In West Africa, Pilgrims Group is working with commercial businesses, media organisations and NGOs by offering practical solutions around training, risk assessment, contingency planning and decontamination equipment for those teams operating in affected areas.

Here in the UK, the company is offering its expertise to airport managers and the Government’s border agencies in relation to the provision of staff training, equipment and other means of practical support.

“Prevention and protection are better than cure,” stated James Milnes, a leading specialist on the Ebola virus. “In the case of Ebola, where there is no cure, it stands to reason that prevention and protection are the only available options.”

Filming takes place for the Tonight programme on ITV

Filming takes place for the Tonight programme on ITV

Preparing for Ebola in the UK

In this evening’s broadcast, ITV’s science correspondent Alok Jha will be looking at how the UK is preparing for Ebola and asks if we are really ready.

Pilgrims Group has supported the programme by offering specialist advice and comment on the preparation processes for dealing with Ebola contamination, in addition to providing a practical run-through and demonstration of Personal Protective Equipment.

“The devastating human cost of the Ebola crisis and its potential for destabilising the international community has been recognised as a global threat by the World Health Organisation, the United States Government and many international organisations,” explained Pilgrims Group’s managing director Bill Freear. “We welcome the chance to play our part in effectively preventing the spread of this dreadful disease and eventually controlling it.”

*Access the ITV website for an in-depth preview of tonight’s programme complete with video interviews featuring James Milnes, leading epidemiologist David Heymann and infectious disease scientist Jeremy Farrar

Leave a comment

Filed under Risk UK News

UK security sector provides equipment in support of international response to Ebola virus

The UK’s world-leading security sector is working with the Government to identify how it might increase support to help contain and control Ebola as the spread of the virus intensifies.

Many of the UK’s 11,500 companies operating in the security sector harbour valuable skills, experience and equipment that are aiding the international response and protecting the many thousands of people working to tackle the spread of the Ebola virus.

Paul Everitt, CEO of security sector trade organisation the ADS Group, commented: “The UK security industry prides itself on innovation and manufacturing some of the best protection and containment equipment in the world. As such, it’s well placed to support the treatment of those who have contracted the Ebola virus, safeguard those treating patients and limit the continued spread of infection.”

Everitt continued: “We’ve already seen some UK companies provide decontamination and scanning equipment, as well as others working to manage Ebola infection from a logistical perspective by way of comprehensive contingency planning and risk assessment procedures. Many other companies are poised to step forward and participate in the international response, offering world class equipment in the form of containment units, infection detection systems, communications infrastructure and much more.”

ADS Group is the UK trade organisation representing the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors

ADS Group is the UK trade organisation representing the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors

Case Studies of support

Examples of where the UK’s security industry has provided support to date are numerous. For instance, Andover-based Bioquell UK, a world-leader in decontamination and infection control solutions, has provided decontamination equipment to a variety of premises that may have come into contact with the Ebola virus.

Notably, the company was engaged to lead decontamination of the unit in the Royal Free Hospital once William Pooley, the British nurse working in West Africa, was discharged.

Headquartered in Oxfordshire, Westminster Group plc is working with management at the Freetown International Airport in Sierra Leone to deliver all security aspects. In response to the Ebola virus, the company is assisting with the implementation of new medical screening systems to identify passengers that are potentially infected, including the supply of specialist fever screening equipment.

Global Resilience Services in Cheshire is supplying a number of West African countries with specialist decontamination and containment products. The supply of bespoke isolation stretchers with filtration systems has proven to be a critical solution for the safe movement of infected casualties and the protection of medical personnel when they’re taking fluid samples.

*Of the 11,500 companies in the UK’s security sector, 20% are active exporters. Indeed, the UK is the sixth largest exporter of security equipment in the world. The current Government hopes to double the value of these exports by 2020

Leave a comment

Filed under Risk UK News