00.01 am, 14 October 2003
to decide today whether the law should impose safety
duties on company directors .
The Health and Safety Commission is meeting today
(Tuesday, 14th October) to decide whether company
directors should be required in law to take reasonable
steps to ensure that there company is complying with
health and safety law.
In June 2000, the Government published a strategy
document, 'Revitalising Health and Safety' which stated
that it was "the intention of Ministers, when
Parliamentary time allows, to introduce legislation
on these responsibilities."
It asked the Commission to "advise Ministers
on how the law would need to be changed to make these
responsibilities statutory so that Directors and responsible
persons of similar status are clear about what is
expected of them in their management of health and
safety." To see this in full click
Under the current law all safety obligations are placed
upon the company and individual
directors have no positive duty to take any steps
to ensure that their company is complying with health
and safety law.
As a result company directors can delegate all safety
decisions to lower level managers and insulate
themselves entirely from taking any action in relation
to the safety of the company.
This legal gap exists although the HSC recognises
that the conduct of company directors can be critical
to whether or not the company will comply with health
and safety law.
Currently, the HSC has published guidance on "Directors
Responsibility for Health and Safety,"- which
is entirely voluntary in nature.
David Bergman, Director of the Centre for Corporate
have been in discussions with the Health and Safety
Commission and Executive on this issue and pointed
out the problems with the existing legal situation
and the limitations of the voluntary guidance approach."
download CCA's briefing note to Health and Safety
read CCA's web-briefing on Director Duties and
Safety, Click Here
contact the CCA, call 020 7 490 4494, or e-mail
contact the HSE Press Office call 020 7 717 6000
Point 11 of the Strategy Statement
Health and Safety Commission will develop a code
of practice on Directors' responsibilities for health
and safety, in conjunction with stakeholders. It
is intended that the code of practice will, in particular,
stipulate that organisations should appoint an individual
Director for health and safety, or responsible person
of similar status (for example in organisations
where there is no board of Directors).
The Health and Safety Commission will also advise
Ministers on how the law would need to be changed
to make these responsibilities statutory so that
Directors and responsible persons of similar status
are clear about what is expected of them in their
management of health and safety. It is the intention
of Ministers, when Parliamentary time allows, to
introduce legislation on these responsibilities."