Delivery depends on an effective management system to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees, customers and members of the public.
Organisations should aim to protect people by introducing management systems and practices that ensure risks are dealt with sensibly, responsibly and proportionately.

Core actions

To take responsibility and 'ownership' of health and safety, members of the board must ensure that:

  • health and safety arrangements are adequately resourced;
  • they obtain competent health and safety advice;
  • risk assessments are carried out;
  • employees or their representatives are involved in decisions that affect their health and safety.

The board should consider the health and safety implications of introducing new processes, new working practices or new personnel, dedicating adequate resources to the task and seeking advice where necessary.

Boardroom decisions must be made in the context of the organisation's health and safety policy; it is important to 'design-in' health and safety when implementing change.

How can it be done

  • Leadership is more effective if visible – board members can reinforce health and safety policy by being seen on the 'shop floor', following all safety measures themselves and addressing any breaches immediately.
  • Consider health and safety when deciding senior management appointments.
  • Having procurement standards for goods, equipment and services can help prevent the introduction of expensive health and safety hazards.
  • The health and safety arrangements of partners, key suppliers and contractors should be assessed: their performance could adversely affect yours.
  • Setting up a separate risk management or health and safety committee as a subset of the board, chaired by a senior executive, can make sure the key issues are addressed and guard against time and effort being wasted on trivial risks and unnecessary bureaucracy.
  • Providing health and safety training to some or all of the board can promote understanding and knowledge of the key issues in your organisation.
  • Supporting worker involvement in health and safety can improve participation and help prove your commitment.

Case study: A comprehensive, boardroom-led review of health and safety helped a leading food manufacturer to reduce time lost to injuries over two years, and helped directors to a much greater understanding of health and safety issues.

Institute of Directors Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland

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Updated 2021-10-05