In any business the effectiveness of its health and safety arrangements are a reflection of the way the business is organised and led by its most senior managers. Effective health and safety performance comes from the top. Directors and members of the board have both collective and individual responsibility for health and safety. Regardless of the size of the organisation it is important that directors are fully aware of the health and safety matters and requirements that apply to them. They need to understand their role in governing health and safety as part of their wider responsibilities for good corporate governance. Health and safety at work legislation places key requirements and responsibilities on Directors. The law places responsibility for safety and health directly on those in charge of the workplace. Directors and Managers who control the work being done must take on this responsibility. There is no way of avoiding it. In addition to the statutory requirements a common law duty of care is owed to the workforce and others. At its extreme this could lead to proceedings for manslaughter being taken against Directors. As well as complying with the law to avoid legal sanction Directors will want to achieve a high level of compliance because of the recognised business benefits that will follow. They will also want to protect the reputation of their business from the adverse publicity that a serious accident or prosecution would bring and avoid the employee unrest and other pressures that result from poor levels of compliance. An effective health and safety management strategy is a core business function and there is considerable evidence of the financial benefits to be gained from effective health and safety management such as;
- Increased productivity when following safe operating procedures;
- Reduced insurance premiums;
- Less sick-related absences;
- Reduced training costs for replacement staff;
- Better staff retention and morale.