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HSC and Directors Duties - Voluntary Guidance
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HSC's Voluntary Guidance, and HSC meeting January 2001

As a result of the first paragraph of the Action Point, 11 of Revitalising Health and Safety, the HSC published a consultation document on a voluntary code for directors. To download the HSE consultation Document, click here (PDF document)
Click here (Word)

The HSE then undertook an anlaysis of the various responses. To see this, click here

This was discussed at the HSC meeting in May 2001. A decision was taken to publish a revised document. The decision stated that:

There was overwhelming support for the need for guidance in this area but some concern was expressed over the voluntary nature of the proposed Code. The use of the term 'voluntary code' was misleading and should be abandoned in favour of 'guidance'. The consultation had been on the basis of previous decisions by the Commission and had focused on the substance of the guidance concerning directors' health and safety responsibilities. The need for further legislation in this area was being considered in the context of the Safety Bill. The guidance should be viewed as the first stage in ensuring directors took up their responsibilities; this would be evaluated and provide evidence on the need for further methods;(emphasis added)

To read the whole of final decisions of the HSC click here

The final guidance was then published. To see this Click here (PDF)

Evaluation of Impact of Guidance

The HSE commissioned the consultants Greenstreet Berman to undertake an evaluation of the impact of the voluntary Guidance. The consultants - who only looked at large companies and organisations - published their results in August 2003. The HSE summarised the results in the following manner:

"• 66% in 2003 reported health and safety directed at board level compared to 58% in 2001
70% of top 350 companies and 55% of public bodies surveyed in 2003 reported that health and safety directed at board level - largely unchanged on 2001;
82% of respondents in 2003 reported that they have a board level person responsible for health and safety – a small increase on 75% reported in 2001 – the breakdown by type of organisation in 2003 was as follows: top 350 companies – 90%; large firms – 88%; public sector organisations – 78%; voluntary sector – 55%;
in 2003 survey, 80% had heard of HSC guidance compared to 75% in 2001;
in 2001 and 2003, 60% of those organisations surveyed who reported board level involvement reported identified that health and safety was discussed by the board at least quarterly;
in 2001 and 2003 65% of those board receiving health and safety performance reports were notified of enforcement notices;
of particular concern, around 15% of organisations surveyed have no arrangements in place to facilitate board level involvement and no plans to do so."

To download the full report, Click Here (PDF)



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