Health and safety firmly on boardroom agenda

Health and safety has moved significantly up the boardroom agenda in the past three years, with more than three-quarters of firms now discussing it at board meetings, and almost all having a health and safety and risk assessment policy, research by a leading industry body has said.

The survey by manufacturers’ organisation EEF also found that directors in more than eight in 10 companies were now actively involved in managing health and safety, while there had been a 40% rise in the number of boards that monitored management of health and safety as part of their key performance indicators.

While there was widespread support for the overall aim and approach of health and safety requirements and inspections, as well as a recognition that good health and safety can save money in the long term, the survey did however reveal that managers were often concerned about excessive bureaucracy and high up-front costs.

The Health and Safety Executive has given employers until 2010 to demonstrate that the current approach towards health and safety works, or face a possible change in the law.

Steve Pointer, head of health and safety policy at the EEF, said the survey showed that the current approach, while not without its problems, did generally work.

“This survey shows that active leadership by directors is now very definitely the norm, not the exception,” he said.

“Managers and directors in our member companies are taking their responsibilities seriously, and the results clearly demonstrate that further regulation is not required.”

Moves to tighten up health and safety requirements, such as appointing a single director to be charged with health and safety, could end up being counter-productive, he added.

“It would send a message that fellow directors can forget all about health and safety, which would be disastrous. Health and safety management is effective when everyone works together.”

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