Health and safety – who’s responsible?
The short answer is everyone; but with responsibilities that match what people can reasonably influence and manage.
The new law makes it clear that the business or undertaking has the primary duty of care to ensure the safety of workers and anyone affected by
Good health and safety starts with good leadership. Company partners and directors (officers) need to carry out due diligence to ensure their business
undertaking is managing its key health and safety risks effectively.
Due diligence as defined in HSWA is broadly the same concept of due diligence that directors already know in a wider business sense (for example,
financial risk or business objectives).
Workers too must take reasonable care for their own and their fellow workers’ health and safety.
Everyone has a role to play.
Collaboration is key
HSWA requires businesses to cooperate and coordinate around how they will manage risks collectively, and this includes being clear about the arrangements
for doing this and how those arrangements will be monitored.
In determining this, people should be thinking about who is best placed to have the influence and control. This will be dependent on what is reasonably
practicable in the circumstances.
For example, at a large building site cooperation and coordination will be needed between the construction firm, the principal contractor, electricians,
carpenters, and bricklayers. Each has responsibility for the health and safety of workers on site as well as others eg visitors. Together they
will make sensible
arrangements that reflect who has the most influence over which area of work.
Where supply chains are involved, those with influence and control need to adopt good contractor management principles and not attempt to unreasonably
push responsibilities down the supply chain.