Directors must understand their legal responsibilities when it comes to Health and Safety in the workplace, roles should be supported by formal individual terms of reference.
Depending on the size, scale, and nature of the business as well as the hazards and risks that may come up, it may be wise to nominate a director to oversee and co-ordinate the safety and health process, keep in mind that the establishment of such a role does not minimise or take away other Directors’ health and safety responsibilities.
The person nominated may chair the health and safety sub-committee of the board, where such a committee exists, the role should be carried out by a person with the necessary competence to fully understand their role and responsibilities. Having regard to the health and safety risks that the business might poses; the Safety and Health Director role could be dismissed on either an executive or a non-executive basis.
Such nomination will not mean that the board’s general health and safety responsibilities are delegated to one person. However, such nominees should have the responsibility to ensure that health and safety risk management issues are properly addressed at board level and throughout the organisation. They will also keep the board informed of the relevant health and safety issues, levels of performance etc.
The person assigned to this role must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they should receive the necessary health and safety training so that they can become comfortable with the responsibilities. A significant way of demonstrating the board’s commitment to health and safety management is for the nominated Health and Safety Director to take a personal interest in monitoring health and safety performance. They should talk to the workers and their safety representative about safety and health issues on the floor and set a good example by obeying in-house health and safety rules, by wearing a hard hat and other PPE while on site for example.
The Health and Safety Director can look for evidence of the practical working of the board’s health and safety policy and ensure that discussions on this issue at board meetings are focused and effective, they could also liaise closely with the undertaking’s safety committee, where one exists.
William van Greunen: OHS Consultant - Compliance Hub