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DIRECTOR LEADERSHIP RESEARCH PUBLISHED

Evaluation of leadership suggests pressure for legal duties will remain

In 2008 the HSE Board asked a Steering Group to oversee an independent evaluation of measures taken to strengthen director leadership of health and safety.

The concluding Report by the Group and the research conducted have now been published. The HSE Board is “expected to discuss the Report in due course”.

Most directors remain unaware of guidance and even less have read it

A key finding of the research is that of those directors interviewed 36% were aware of the guidance on director leadership and 19% of those directors interviewed had read the guidance.

Directors of large organisations and those in the public sector had greater levels of awareness than those in medium and small organisations and in the private sector.

The Group also commissioned an independent review of supplementary evidence provided by UCATT, the Local Government Association, EEF, CBI, the Institute of Directors and the British Safety Council and the Donaghy Inquiry report. The  reviewers concluded:

“notwithstanding the methodological weaknesses, in aggregate, the survey evidence from the reports under review suggests that only a minority of directors and senior managers are aware of the HSE/IoD guidance Leading Health and Safety at Work and not all who are aware of it have read it”.

Comment

The Report will disappoint those who do not welcome the prospect of further statutory health and safety duties on directors. By contrast the report and evidence will provide encouragment to those who argue that such legal duties are essential and overdue.

However, it is unlikely that new legal duties on directors will be a high priority for legislators. The emphasis is more likely to be on HSE “encouraging its inspectors to promote the principles of the joint Institute of Directors / Health and Safety Commission guidance for directors and leaders of companies by the use of more easily absorbable presentation material.”

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