HSC guidance on Directors' responsibilities for health and
This guidance document has recently been published
by the HSE, in a form somewhat amended after consultation on an
earlier draft (see LawNow Archive, 18 January 2001).
Significant changes made to the earlier
- the term 'code' has been replaced with the term 'guidance',
which now clarifies the evidential status of the document.
- the guidance stresses that the role of the board of directors
is to provide strategic oversight and direction.
- it is recommended that directors, in carrying out their
responsibilities, should set out the expectations of senior
managers with health and safety responsibilities and the
arrangements for keeping the board informed and advised of all
relevant matters concerning performance.
- it is recommended that, in accordance with the 'Turnbull
Report', directors should, at least annually, review systems of
control including risk management, financial, operational and
compliance controls that are the key to the fulfilment of the
company's business objectives.
The Key Action Points in the Guidance
Action Point 1
"The board needs to accept formally the publicly
its collective role in providing health and safety leadership in
Action Point 2
"Each member of the board needs to accept their
individual role in providing health and safety leadership for their
Action Point 3
"The board needs to ensure that all board decisions
reflect its health and safety intentions, as articulated in the
health and safety policy statement".
Action Point 4
"The board needs to recognise its role in engaging
the active participation of workers in improving health ad
Action Point 5
"The board needs to ensure that it is kept informed
of, and alert to, relevant health and safety risk management
issues. The Health and Safety Commission recommends that board
appoints one of their number to be the 'health and safety
Specific additions and amendments to directors'
- The commentary on Action point 3 has been amended since the
earlier draft to introduce additional considerations for directors
in the following areas:
(a) new materials, are they toxic, do they pose new risks and how
will any new risks be controlled?
(b) new work practices, what are the new risks and are new managers
and supervisors competent to induct workers in the new
(c) new people, do they need health and safety training and are
they sufficiently competent to do the job safely?
(d) contracting out, the importance of directors recognising their
continuing responsibility for safety when work is contracted
- Guidance on Action point 4 now stresses that all workers have a
duty, while at work, to take reasonable care for their own health
and safety and that of other people who may be affected by their
acts or omissions.
- The commentary on Action point 5 has been expanded with the
(a) the purpose of the 'health and safety director' is to have a
member of the board who can ensure that health and safety risk
management issues are properly addressed, both by the board and
more widely in the organisation
(b) the Chairman and/or Chief Executive have a critical role to
play in ensuring risks are properly managed and that the 'health
and safety director' has the necessary competence, resources and
support of the board members to carry out their functions.
(c) the role of the 'health and safety director' should not detract
either from the responsibilities of other directors for specific
areas of health and safety risk management or from the health and
safety responsibilities of the board as a whole.
Copies of the guidance are available at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg343.pdf
For further information contact Mark Tyler,
email@example.com (+44 (0)20
7367 2568) or Faye Sankey, firstname.lastname@example.org (+44 (0)20 7367