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Understanding your Health & Safety Responsibilities as a Company Director

Updated: Jan 2

Whether you are a director of a large organisation or a small business, your obligations to health and safety are legally binding and if these duties are breached, you can be personally liable.

Your responsibilities involve protecting the health and safety of your employees, clients and members of the public that might be affected by your organisation’s activities. Many of the high-profile safety cases over the years have been due to the failures in leadership and the management of risk, with catastrophic results.

Health and safety should not be perceived as a burden, rather as an opportunity. But effective health and safety performance starts at the top – you and any fellow Directors or board members have a collective and individual responsibility.

So, what are the essential principles?

Assessment and review:

  • identifying and managing health and safety risks

  • accessing (and following) competent advice

  • monitoring, reporting, and reviewing performance

Strong leadership:

  • visible, active commitment from the Director

  • good health and safety management should be embedded with business decisions

  • establishing effective ‘downward’ communication systems and management structures

Employee involvement:

  • effective 'upward' communication

  • providing high quality training

  • employees engaged in the promotion and achievement of safe and healthy conditions

The Benefits:

  • legally compliant

  • reduced risks

  • fewer accidents

  • lower employee absence and turnover rates

  • increased productivity because staff are healthier, happier, and better motivated

  • reduced threat of legal action

  • reduced costs

  • corporate responsibility reputation among clients, investors, and communities

  • improved standing among suppliers and partners

To ensure you are not falling short of the standards, is there anything you need to change to become a more effective (and legally compliant) leader in health and safety?

Here is a useful checklist of questions:

  • How are you ensuring that your organisation is receiving competent health and safety advice?

  • Are all staff, including Owners and Directors, sufficiently trained and competent in health and safety responsibilities?

  • What systems are in place to assess the H&S risks in your organisation?

  • Are there sensible control measures established? How often are they reviewed?

  • Are you confident that your employees are consulted properly on health and safety matters, and that their concerns are being listened to and actioned?

  • How can you be sure about what is happening on the ground? What audits or assessments are taking place to inform you about what your organisation and contractors actually do?

  • What information does senior management receive regularly about health and safety, e.g., performance data and reports on injuries, near misses and work-related ill health?

  • Where working practices change, have implications for health and safety been evaluated and flagged?

  • What do you do to review H&S as a senior management team?

Various codes and guides (many of them sector-specific) are available to help organisations report health and safety performance and risk management as part of good governance.

Check out other Blogs in our series:

Need support with Health & Safety in your business?

Want to delegate H&S Competent person to an external professional to ensure you’re compliant?

Please contact Robinson Grace HR for further advice and support via or call us on 01793 311937 to see if we can help you.

The content of our blogs is intended for general information only and does not replace legal or other professional advice.

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