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Industrial Health and Safety: Directors

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what format the evaluation of the voluntary health and safety guidance addressed to directors of corporate bodies and their equivalents in the public and third sectors will take; and when he expects to publish his findings. (196952)

[holding answer 27 March 2008]: The HSE will commission an evaluation from independent researchers in two phases:

(i) a survey focussing on the distribution, penetration and reception of the guidance within the target audience of directors of corporate bodies and their equivalents in the public and third sectors. This will be undertaken six months after launch, in May 2008.

(ii) a survey designed to assess the extent and nature of change in behaviour of directors of corporate bodies and their equivalents in the public and third sectors. It is planned that this work should be undertaken within 18 months to two years of the launch of the guidance, with a final report published early in 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of all organisations have agreed, in accordance with guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive, to appoint voluntarily a director to take responsibility for safety and health duties in the (a) private, (b) public and (c) third sectors. (196953)

[holding answer 27 March 2008]: There is no evidence yet available on the impact of the guidance on director leadership issued jointly by the HSC and the Institute of Directors, published in November 2007.

However, a programme of research was undertaken over four years following the issue in 2001 by the HSC of guidance on directors' responsibilities. This research involved a telephone survey examining the health and safety responsibilities of company directors and management board members in large organisations, and found:

Percentage where a board director has responsibility for health and safety

Percentage of type

2001

2003

2005

Top 350

85

90

82

Large Firms

73

87

84

Public Sector

74

77

89

Voluntary

86

55

1

All

75

82

85

1 Voluntary organisations were not surveyed in 2005 as the previous surveys found that the number of large voluntary organisations was relatively small and hence it was difficult to secure a response.

There is separate evidence available from a postal survey carried out as part of an evaluation of HSE's enforcement policy statement in 2004. This covered firms of all sizes (including sole traders, micro and small firms) and found that 44 per cent. of all organisations questioned, reported having a 'Health and Safety Board Director'. This included 33 per cent. of the charities questioned; 86 per cent. of central Government organisations; 67 per cent. of local government organisations; and 50 per cent. of social services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he is considering the introduction of statutory health and safety duties for company directors; and if he will make a statement. (196955)

[holding answer 27 March 2008]: Government are committed to promoting greater director leadership, and supports Health and Safety Commission efforts to achieve high standards of board level leadership through advice, guidance and enforcement.

Government are keeping the question of new legal duties for directors on health and safety under review.