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January 5, 2010

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Tailored factsheet on directors’ duties for small firms

Further guidance on directors’ responsibilities in health and safety has

been published by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Federation

of Small Businesses (FSB).

Based on the HSE-IoD voluntary code, published in October 2007, the new document, Leading Health and Safety at Work, The Owner’s Guide, is designed specifically for small-business owners.

The factsheet emphasises the legal responsibilities of employers in regard to health and safety and the sanctions that can follow — for both businesses and individuals — if they fail to comply. It then outlines a simple route to compliance, with core legal requirements clearly marked for each of the four stages (plan, deliver, monitor, review), along with processes that may help businesses comply.

A leadership checklist is also included to help employers identify if they are adequately addressing health and safety in the workplace.

The campaign for positive directors’ duties gathered pace last year when two separate reports from the Work and Pensions Select Committee and Rita Donaghy, who the Government commissioned to examine the causes of deaths in the construction industry, called for their introduction.

The HSE is currently assessing the effectiveness of the voluntary code and is expected to advise the government early in 2010 on whether statutory duties should be introduced.

Alexander Ehmann, head of parliamentary and regulation affairs at the IoD, told SHP that the new factsheet was not being taken into consideration as part of the HSE’s review. He described the new document as part of a range of efforts it was undertaking to try to improve awareness and take-up of the voluntary code, and had been launched irrespective of the current evaluation.

However, an IoD plan to introduce sectoral-specific guidance for the construction industry has been scrapped, following a failure to secure UCATT’s involvement.

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