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Executives’ attitudes to safety

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The results of a study conducted by MORI for the British Safety Council have been released. “Attitudes of Britain’s Captains of Industry” asked business leaders about their attitudes towards safety measures and legislation.

Findings
Creating profit for shareholders and increasing customer satisfaction were the top corporate objectives cited. One in six single out improving safety in the working environment as being on the corporate agenda, although that rose to one in three among executives involved in manufacturing.

The threat of imprisonment from proposed legislation for three new offences of corporate killing wasn’t too daunting for most: only one in eight suggested they would either be likely to or would definitely resign as a consequence of such a successful prosecution. Over four out of five felt that loss of reputation would be a long-term effect if their company was successfully prosecuted for corporate killing. Around half thought that it would create employee morale problems and high insurance costs. Seven out of ten said that legal action would have some effect on their company’s share price; of these, one in ten think that a major fall, of more than 25%, would occur.

Many respondents thought that institutional investors would demand action following prosecution. A third believed that this group would demand corrective action be taken and half that they would request written clarification of events.

Perceived reaction among customers following prosecution is less clear-cut. A quarter felt that this group would continue to support them and a third that they would do nothing. However, close to half thought that they would ask for proof of health and safety in future contracts, a third that they would demand improvements in health and safety, and a quarter that they would call for an investigation.

The majority of business leaders are making preparations for when the legislation is introduced. The most popular of these include: demonstrating a commitment to health and safety, setting up effective health and safety communications, appointing a health and safety director, monitoring performance and feedback, and providing extra resources for health and safety – each cited by at least three in ten.

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