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RR535 - International comparison of health and safety responsibilities of company directors

This report looks at whether the law in nine different countries imposes health and safety duties upon boardroom directors (and other senior managers), and if so, what these duties comprise and whether they assist in the prosecution of directors.

The main finding is that seven out of nine countries contain safety legislation that imposes positive safety obligations upon either directors or senior managers of companies. These are: Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Japan, Canada (four out of fourteen jurisdictions) and Australia (two out of nine jurisdictions).

There is in addition another category of jurisdictions which, whilst not imposing explicit positive duties upon directors, do impose significant responsibilities through the creation of offences that are targeted at directors. This category includes four Australian states.

There are also, however, jurisdictions which either impose minimal or no duties upon directors. Two countries – USA and Holland – do not impose any obligations.

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