HSE chair warns of need for board-level support

Without board-level support and oversight, even the best corporate health and safety system can end up being overlooked in the day-to-day pressure of running a modern business, the chair of the Health and Safety Executive has said.

Judith Hackitt, speaking at a conference in London, reiterated the importance of board-level “buy-in” when it came to health and safety.

“Without effective board-level leadership and oversight, the competing demands of running a business can push health and safety into a back seat,” she warned.

With the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act now in force, it was important that businesses considered their risk profile and demonstrated leadership in managing those risks, she argued.

“The challenge now is very much with directors and boards who must seize the opportunity to critically evaluate the risks in their business and the adequacy of their leadership and to make changes,” she stressed.

Effective health and safety processes protected the workforce, met legal and moral imperatives, and created business benefits in improved productivity, reduced sickness absence, better morale and improved corporate reputation, Hackitt added.

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