The Institute of Directors (IoD) today voiced its concern at proposals to make directors personally liable for deaths at work.
MP Stephen Hepburn’s Health and Safety (Directors Duties) Bill would put a general duty on all company directors and large companies to appoint a director at board level to be responsible for health and safety.
Under the Bill companies would face both fines and the prospect of custodial sentences for directors where serious health and safety breaches or negligence at work resulted in death.
To help safeguard staff, the Bill would force large companies to appoint a named health and safety director.
Geraint Day, head of health and safety policy at the IoD, said that by creating a named individual the Bill runs the risk of moving away from good standards of collective board responsibility and creating a culture of scapegoating.
“We have no problem with firms that already have a person at board level whose job includes health and safety, but the emphasis has to be on ensuring that the board as a whole is on top of the issues,” he said.
The Bill also only addresses large private sector companies, the IoD pointed out, ignoring many, very large enterprises in the public sector.