Why should Directors have an Appropriate Understanding of Health and Safety in their Company?

It’s really important that company Directors receive Health and Safety briefings because many don’t fully appreciate the extent of the threat to themselves and their organisation of not getting this right.

It is necessary for Directors to actually have an appreciation of the sort of questions they should be asking at board level, the sort of information they should be getting at that level and how they should monitor Health and Safety standards in their organisation. Many Directors will receive training in governance and financial matters and it’s important that they receive training in Health and Safety matters as well.

What size of organization does this affect? It really depends on what the organisation is doing. However, even quite small organisations can find themselves in quite serious difficulty, due to the way in which their organisation is managed and the way they work with other organisations. As soon as a business employs people who engage with other organisations, the Directors need to understand the risks they could be involved in.

At Quadriga we are often shocked at how often Directors – really quite experienced business people – don’t realise what they’re exposing themselves to. In terms of individual Director’s liabilities, there is often a considerable misunderstanding about this. At one end of the spectrum, Directors believe they will be the ones to go prison when the company is at fault. At the other end of the spectrum are Directors who think that they are completely immune from the activities of their organisation. The real position lies somewhere in between. In many cases of Health and Safety offences, it is the company that commits the offence and the company as a corporate body that can be prosecuted and fined. However, there are provisions in legislation which say that where an offence by a company is committed due to the consent or connivance of a Director, or can be attributable to neglect on their behalf, then they personally can be prosecuted alongside the company. There has been a five-fold increase in such prosecutions over the last 5-7 years, so they’re not uncommon.

What is important is for Directors to show that they are managing their organisations well and that they are alert to these issues. That greatly reduces the risks of being personally culpable for things that might go wrong in the organisation. Directors need to be aware of how to manage the issues in their organisation, how to monitor them, the board level decisions and policies they need to have in place and how they need to react when incidents happen or Health and Safety inspections occur.

At Quadriga we run a Health and Safety training for Directors. Click here to find out more or call us on 0118 929 9920 to arrange for specific training for your organisation.

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