Why leadership is important

Effective health and safety performance comes from the top; members of the board have both collective and individual responsibility for health and safety. Directors and boards need to examine their own behaviours, both individually and collectively, against the guidance given - and, where they see that they fall short of the standards it sets them, to change what they do to become more effective leaders in health and safety.

Why directors and board members need to act

  • Protecting the health and safety of employees or members of the public who may be affected by your activities is an essential part of risk management and must be led by the board.
  • Failure to include health and safety as a key business risk in board decisions can have catastrophic results. Many high-profile safety cases over the years have been rooted in failures of leadership.
  • Health and safety law places duties on organisations and employers, and directors can be personally liable when these duties are breached: members of the board have both collective and individual responsibility for health and safety.

By following this guidance, you will help your organisation find the best ways to lead and promote health and safety, and therefore meet its legal obligations.

This is what health and safety leaders in the public and private sectors have to say:

  • 'Health and safety is integral to success. Board members who do not show leadership in this area are failing in their duty as directors and their moral duty, and are damaging their organisation.'
  • 'An organisation will never be able to achieve the highest standards of health and safety management without the active involvement of directors. External stakeholders viewing the organisation will observe the lack of direction.'
  • 'Health and safety is a fundamental part of business. Boards need someone with passion and energy to ensure it stays at the core of the organisation.'
  • 'Board level involvement is an essential part of the 21st century trading ethic. Attitudes to health and safety are determined by the bosses, not the organisation's size.'
Institute of Directors Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland

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Updated 2021-01-15