We last updated you on directors’ health and safety duties in May last year, following the Health and Safety Commission’s public discussions on how best to take the issue forward.

At that time the Commission was keen to stress the positive impact that had already been made on behaviour and attitude at board level, citing among other things its official guidance of July 2001 (Directors’ responsibilities for health and safety, INDG343) and the HSE’s enforcement activities in relation to individual directors. It also recognised that the option of amending s37 HASWA to facilitate convictions did not appear to be desirable and that legislating on the issue in some other way, if that were considered appropriate, would have to await the outcome of developments in corporate manslaughter and the Better Regulation Executive’s ongoing review of the UK’s regulatory framework.

The Commission was also of the view, however, that work needed to be done without delay to produce updated “clear and credible guidance” on director responsibility, and it instructed the HSE to work with the Institute of Directors in doing so. The guidance in question is not intended to be legally binding, or even to have the quasi-legal status of Approved Codes of Practice, but it will be material that may be used to a greater or lesser extent by the authorities when deciding in specific cases, for example, whether to prosecute individual directors and senior managers, and by the courts when weighing the evidence in those cases that are prosecuted.

Over the past year the IOD’s Steering Group has met on a number of occasions and has now produced draft Guidance for public consultation. The draft Guidance can be viewed via the following link -


In summary, the draft Guidance recommends various “Core Actions” and “Good Practice” points to put the Actions into effect. The recommendations take in the four areas of planning the direction of health and safety policy, delivering health and safety through management systems, monitoring and reporting health and safety, and reviewing health and safety performance.

Although the recommendations will probably appear straightforward to larger organisations with well developed and resourced safety management systems, it may be that smaller SMEs will struggle to act on some of them.

The IOD will accept submissions on the draft Guidance from any interested organisation or individual until 22 June and plans to publish the final version of the Guidance in autumn this year, so if you wish to do so there is little time left in which to register your opinion. We have experience in formulating effective consultation submissions, so feel free to let us know if you would like any assistance.