Roles and Responsibilities for Directors
Safety and Health Director
All Directors should understand their legal responsibilities when it comes to health and safety. Their roles should be supported by formal individual terms of reference.
Depending on the size, scale and nature of the business and the potential hazards and risks arising, it may be prudent to nominate a Director to oversee and co-ordinate the safety and health governance process. Remember that the establishment of such a role does not dilute other Directors’ safety and health responsibilities.
Areas where this might be appropriate include those companies which control activities at many workplace locations, for large construction and utility companies, high risk businesses where health and safety management is critical to business continuity, e.g. the so called "major accident hazard" workplaces, the mining, quarrying and chemical sectors.
Having regard to the safety and health risks that the business poses, the Safety and Health Director role could be discharged on either an executive or a non-executive basis. For example, where safety critical plant is used and the consequences of loss of integrity could be severe for the undertaking, the role should be carried out by a person with the necessary competence to adequately understand their role and responsibilities.
The person nominated may chair the safety and health sub-committee of the board, where one exists. Such nomination will not mean that the board’s general safety and health responsibilities are delegated to one person. However, such nominees should have the responsibility to ensure that safety and health risk management issues are properly addressed at board level and throughout the organisation as a whole. He/she will also keep the board informed of the relevant safety and health issues, levels of performance etc.
Whoever is assigned to this role must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. He/she should receive the necessary safety and health training so that they can become comfortable with the responsibilities. A significant way of demonstrating the board’s commitment to safety and health management is for the nominated ‘Safety and Health Director’ to take a personal interest in monitoring safety and health performance. He/she should talk to the workers and their safety representative(s) about safety and health issues on the floor and set a good example by obeying in-house safety and health rules, e.g. by wearing a hard hat and other PPE while on site.
The Safety and Health Director can look for evidence of the practical working of the board’s safety and health policy and ensure that discussions on this issue at board meetings are focused and effective. He/she could also liaise closely with the undertaking’s safety committee, where one exists.
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