It is not easy being a director. I should know, I’ve been one. I still am one in actual fact. The level of responsibility and pressure to succeed are immense. Emerging technologies expand and grow at an exponential rate, effecting the field of business in ways we find difficult to imagine. The opportunities and threats have to be met head on and dealt with before there is a negative impact on the business. Health and safety is just one aspect of business which is hard to keep track of and harness in as useful a way as is possible. It doesn’t help when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) turn their attention more and more to business directors if something has gone wrong in the workplace. In the most recent year end to April 2016 for figures being made available, director convictions leaped to 45 in comparison to 15 during the year before. The new sentencing guidelines imposed onto the criminal courts have pushed the value of fines for many companies into the millions (a ten fold increase for some business types). One utility company has set aside £26 million just to deal with the problem.
Taking no action and hoping for the best is not a wise option. However there are a few things that directors could instigate. By being proactive, they could start to demonstrate that their health and safety culture is an improving one. (Note, the HSE use under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 to gain a prosecution of an individual director if in their estimation, the company had a negative health and safety culture)
Action one: Attend the Train to Safety one day course – Directing Safety on 28th February specifically to help directors decide what they need to do and at what level to become involved. This course has been widely accepted as greatly beneficial to directors who have been on the course.
Action two. As well as the Directing course (but not instead of), directors could ensure they have access to adequate health and safety assistance. Many come to me and request my services for this however, it is far better for them to install these levels of competence working inside their organisation. Recruitment is one method but qualifying their staff to the NEBOSH General certificate will pay for itself by the end of the year.