Safety Body supports positive legal duties on directors
in surprise decision.
Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has asked its civil
servants to "explore the possibility of imposing
duties on directors" of private sector and public
bodies. It rejected advice from the Health and Safety
Executive that it should not go down the legislative
path and simply produce 'authoritative guidance'.
HSC made its decision today, Tuesday 6 December, at
a meeting held in public.
decision was supported by both employer representatives
and trade unions.
Donovan, representing the interests of small businesses,
said that it was "not fair" that the only
directors prosecuted for health and safety offences
belonged to small companies. She also said that it
was a "myth" that directors duties would
"increase risk aversion and increase bureaucracy".
would be increased paper trail and burdens on businesses.
She said "It was a great myth that individuals
did not want to become directors as the CBI says".
Longworth, a Commissioner who is also a director of
ASDA, said that there should be a "positive duty"
on directors - though it should go hand in hand with
a 'due diligence' defence. He said imposing duties
on directors for health and safety would bring the
law in line with product safety requirements.
Bergman, Director of the Centre for Corporate Accountability
are delighted that the Commission has unanimously
supported the need for changing the law and imposing
positive duties on directors. It is now for the
HSE to produce a paper setting out the legislative
options and we look forward to being part of the
discussion on the nature of the legal change".
HSC has been asked by the Government for its advice
on this issue following a recommendation by the Select
Committee on Work and Pensions earlier this year that
the law needed to be changed.
the law does not impose any positive obligations on
directors, or their equivalent in public bodies, to
take steps to ensure that their organisation complies
with health and safety law.
read previous press release prior to decision, click
Centre for Corporate Accountability is a charity
advising those bereaved from work-related deaths,
and working on issues of safety, law enforcement
and corporate accountability.