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Consultation Document

Health and Safety Responsibilities for Directors, HSC Decision

7 HEALTH AND SAFETY RESPONSIBILITIES OF DIRECTORS: HSC/01/42

7.1 Neal Stone introduced the item.

7.2 The following points were made in discussion:

  1. 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;
  2. the effect of the recommendation on the appointment of a director with responsibility for health and safety did not act as an impediment to section 37 HSWA prosecutions. Boards, by making such appointments, needed to avoid scapegoating and, the other extreme, of absolving themselves of corporate responsibility for the management of health and safety;
  3. it was a well presented and clear paper with good analysis. A breakdown analysis by geographical area would also have been useful but was difficult to provide at this stage. This would be considered for future consultation exercises;
  4. weighting responses to consultation exercises was desirable but difficult to implement. The paper provided helpful breakdown in identifying issues and concerns raised by some of the key respondents;
  5. it was important that the guidance should be marketed properly;
  6. the wording in paragraph 6 of page 33 should be reconsidered to take account of the situation in smaller companies;
  7. further subsidiary guidance proposed for private sector companies with complex board structures and public and voluntary sector bodies, including education establishments, NHS Trusts and charities, was welcomed.

7.3 The Commission agreed, subject to the points made in discussion, to the publication of guidance. Judith Donovan would provide advice on its marketing.

Updated 2010-05-27