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Private Members Bill

A bill that would impose safety duties upon company directors received its first reading on 12 January 2005. The Bill has been tabled by Labour MP Stephen Hepburn who came third in this years Ballot of MPs for Private Members Bills.

It will recieve its second reading on Friday 4 March 2004

The Bill is based on an original Ten Minute Rule Bill drafted by Ross Cranston QC and the Centre for Corporate Accountability. The Bill is supported by the TGWU, UCATT, TUC, safety charities, bereaved families and safety campaign groups.

In summary the Bill would:

impose a duty upon all company directors to take "all reasonable steps to ensure that their company complies with health and safety law"
it requires the Health and Safety Commission to draft an Approved Code of Practice setting out what was required of directors to comply with the duty
it require large companies (those not defined as small or medium by the terms of the Companies Act 1985) to appoint a Health and Safety Information Director who would be responsible for ensuring that the Board of directors received information about helath and safety matters within the company
It allows HSE and Local Authority inspectors to impose an improvement notice upon directors if they do not comply with their obligations
The Bill ammends Section 37 of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 to ensure that the new duties can be taken into account in determinging whether a company director has comitted an offence under this section

Download current draft of the Bill, click here

The CCA has produced a question and answer briefing about the Bill, to read this, click here

The T&G has produced a number of useful briefings about the bill.

To download a report on Directors Duties published in 2004

Ross Cranston: Company Directors (Health and Safety) Bill

On Tuesday, 25 March 2003, Ross Cranston, Labour MP for Dudley North presented a 10-minute rule bill to the House of Commons to give company directors a stronger legal duty towards Health and Safety.

To Download Parliamentary Debate, Click Here (word)

The Bill's 'Second Reading' never took place.

In his Press Release Ross Cranston stated:

"Over the years we have seen examples of health and safety failures by companies which result in death and injury of employees and others. Many companies have very high standards, but we need to raise everyone’s standard to that level. The appalling Paddington and Clapham rail disasters are well known failures, but there have been others due to low health and safety standards. In 2001-2, the deaths of 109 members of the public and 249 workers were reported to the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities. In the West Midlands itself, there were 13 deaths reported to the authorities – nine of which were workers

‘I believe that the law needs strengthening so these standards can be raised. Companies’ should be required to give health and safety issues much higher priority in the way they operate. My Bill aims to do this. The Company Directors’ (Health and Safety) Bill2 imposes general health and safety duties on directors. The Bill also requires companies to designate a particular director to be responsible for health and safety. Under the law they would have particular responsibilities such as monitoring health and safety and ensuring the right systems are in place in the company to do that monitoring. They would also be required to report significant health and safety failures to other directors and also any recommendations for change.

The Bill has the support of the TUC. Brendan Barber, General Secretary Elect for the TUC said:

‘Ross Cranston MP deserves praise for introducing this Bill that deserves support across the House of Commons. It is surely not too much to ask that every company makes a director responsible for the safety its staff and customers. And it’s good for business, if injuries are avoided then it will save companies money.’

To Download Ross Cranston's Briefing on the Bill. Click Here

To download a briefing done by the House of Commons Library,
Click Here (PDF)

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Page last updated on April 4, 2007