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RR414 - Health and safety responsibilities of company directors and management board members: 2001, 2003 and 2005 surveys

The Health and Safety Commission have issued guidance (INDG 343 “Directors’ responsibilities for health and safety”) advising that organisations assign directorial responsibility to a Board Director and outlining the range of board level tasks. This report brings together the results of three surveys in 2001/02, 2003 and 2005 of the extent to which there is board level direction of health and safety in large private and public sector organisations. The percentage who report that health and safety is directed at a board level has risen from 58% in 2001 to 66% in 2003 and 79% in 2005. There has been little change in the reasons for board level direction, primarily greater ‘general’ concern for H&S. Directors/managers do not cite a large number of new ways of encouraging a higher level of H&S direction, partly because many Directors/managers say they are doing enough already and have sufficient reasons for doing so. Nonetheless, whilst only a minority of Directors/managers spontaneously cite defining duties in law as an effective method, the majority think defining duties in law would be useful, and only a small minority spontaneously report that this would have negative consequences in respect of deterring people from being directors or making H&S a matter of liability management.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-03-19