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HSE: Managers must manage Health and Safety risks

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The Health and Safety Commission has published new guidance recommending health and safety responsibilities for company directors and the board members of public sector and voluntary organisations.

The guidance will help directors ensure that health and safety risks involved in an organisation’s activities are managed properly and that they take adequate measures to protect their employees, employees of contractors and members of the public.

The guidance makes clear that each Board needs to:

  • accept its collective role in providing health and safety leadership in their organisation;
  • nominate a director to champion health and safety issues;
  • ensure that each member accepts individual responsibility and makes sure that their actions and decisions at work reinforce the messages in the board’s health and safety;
  • make sure all decisions reflect the intentions in the organisation’s health and safety policy;
  • encourage workers at all levels to become actively involved in health and safety;
  • keep up to date with relevant health and safety risk management issues and review its health and safety performance regularly, at least annually.

HSC chairman Bill Callaghan said:

“The best companies have told me that health and safety is the first item on the agenda of their board meetings and I want to see every company adopting that policy.
“Health and safety is a boardroom issue. Good health and safety reflects strong leadership from the top and that is what we want to see. The company whose chairperson or chief executive is the champion of health and safety sends the kind of message which delivers good performance on the ground.

“Those who are at the top have a key role to play which is why boards are being asked to nominate one of their number to be a ‘health and safety’ director. But appointing a health and safety director or department does not absolve the Board from its collective responsibility to lead and oversee health and safety management.

“We will be monitoring very closely the impact this guidance has on improving corporate responsibility for ensuring the effective control of health and safety risks.

“I want to remind boardrooms, too, that health and safety is a key element of the corporate social responsibility agenda which will increasingly influence investment and consumer decisions.

“Health and safety performance is an important part of doing good business. Those who cannot manage health and safety cannot manage.”

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