HSE to focus more on directors and officers
In March this year the HSE ruled out recommending to Parliament that health and safety duties be introduced for directors, relying instead on existing Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“HSWA”) offences.
The HSE has however, updated guidance to its inspectors advising them to review the way that health and safety is managed at board level whenever the inspector undertakes an investigation within an organisation.
In any intervention, HM Inspectors will in future, review the effectiveness of the organisation’s leadership of health and safety and in particular, the extent to which the board has implemented INDG 417 the HSE’s guidance ‘Leading Health and Safety at Work: Leadership actions for directors and board members (available at: www.hse.gov.uk/leadership).
An organisation’s or director’s failure to (as a minimum) implement the Core Actions of INDG 417 could be sufficient to enable the HSE to obtain a conviction for breach of the HSWA.
The HSE has stated that:
“In considering the liability of an organisation under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, a jury must consider any breaches of health and safety legislation and may have regard to any health and safety guidance.”
A failure to comply with the Core Actions of INDG 417 could be put to a jury of prima facea evidence of the organisation’s failure to manage health and safety at a senior level, which is a key component of a corporate manslaughter prosecution.
We recommend that Boards and individual directors read and comply, as a minimum with the Core Actions of INDG 417. In particular, directors should confirm that they have received adequate health and safety training to make them competent to manage health and safety within their organisation.