Environmental Health and Safety Training
January 12, 2023
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month — an opportunity to raise awareness and reaffirm your business’ commitment to preventing human trafficking, dispel common misconceptions about trafficking and educate your workforce on how to identify and report illegal activity to keep employees safe.
Human trafficking is often referred to as modern slavery and should be a top-of-mind safety concern for employers throughout the year. The US Department of State defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud or coercion to control and manipulate victims into some type of labor or commercial sex act.
Common myths surrounding human trafficking
Misconceptions about human trafficking can perpetuate the illegal activity. Understanding the truths about human trafficking put businesses and their employees in a better position to identify and report their suspicions.
Myth: Human trafficking does not occur in the US.
Reality: According to DeliverFund, a nonprofit against human trafficking, the US ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking, with an estimated 199,000 incidents occurring annually. It occurs in every state and in cities, suburbs, rural towns and communities nationwide.
Myth: Human trafficking victims are typically from another country.
Reality: Human trafficking victims can be of any age, race, sex, gender, religion, nationality, education level or citizenship status. Anyone can be a victim.
Myth: Human trafficking impacts few industries.
Reality: While more common at hotels, human trafficking can occur in any industry, including restaurants, cleaning services, agriculture, construction and manufacturing.
Myth: Human trafficking victims will attempt to seek help when they’re in public.
Reality: Language barriers, the fear of retribution from traffickers and a fear of law enforcement often prevents victims from getting the help they need.
Myth: Only women are victims of human trafficking.
Reality: Men are also exploited in human trafficking just as women are. Victims can be children, teenagers and adults.
6 steps to combating human trafficking
Companies can take 6 steps to combat human trafficking and ensure the safety of all employees.
1. Know state laws
Several states require industry businesses to train employees on how identify and respond to human trafficking. For example, eight states currently require human trafficking training for lodging employees, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey and Virginia. At least 21 other states recommend human trafficking awareness training within the lodging industry.
2. Train employees to recognize warning signs
Human trafficking isn’t always obvious, which underscores the need to regularly educate staff on how to combat this illegal activity. Interactive training opens people’s eyes to exploitation of human trafficking and its misconceptions. The more informed employees are, the more equipped they are to spot the signs of trafficking and report their suspicions.
3. Scrutinize supply chain vendors
Be diligent in scrutinizing the supply chain vendors that support your business to ensure approved third parties do not include companies that participate in or look away from human trafficking.
4. Establish anti-trafficking policies and procedures
Organizations should have a policy in place that clearly communicates their business’ commitment to combating human trafficking and written procedures for reporting suspicious activity.
5. Post signage in the workplace
Post signs in visible locations within the workplace to remind employees what the common indicators of human trafficking are and how to seek help. Signage should include how to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to report a potential human trafficking situation.
6. Work with local law enforcement
Building relationships with law enforcement ensures an organization has clear contacts in place in an emergency. Invite law enforcement officials to become an active part of your employee education program by periodically briefing workforce locations on human trafficking indicators.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to raise awareness of human trafficking, a serious crime that can affect anyone at any place of business. Ongoing training and education help employers combat human trafficking on their premises and within their supply chains to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees.