The Institute of Directors (IoD) has launched a consultation on new guidance issued to company board members about their role in health and safety.

Issued at the request of the Health and Safety Commission, the guidance sets out “an agenda for the effective leadership of health and safety”.

Leading health and safety at work – actions and good practice for board members 
seeks to persuade board members and directors that health and safety is “integral to success” and that they have both collective and individual responsibility for it.

The guidance reminds board members that more than 200 people are killed in UK workplaces every year, and about two million people suffer from illnesses that they believe were caused or made worse by their work. About 6,000 cancer deaths each year are estimated to be work-related.

The timing of the guidance and consultation appears to be linked to the Corporate Manslaughter Bill, which includes remedial orders that will give the courts powers to force companies to take the steps necessary to prevent similar accidents occurring again.

This may include ordering companies to alter aspects of their structure, training and management policy as well as forcing companies to place adverts publicising their conviction and the steps they are taking to avoid future accidents (a naming and shaming clause).

The consultation asks two key questions: has the guidance been produced in language that is used and is going to be understood by directors and whether the principles and good practice set out in the guidance are pitched at the right level.

The consultation (which finishes on 22 June) can be downloaded at:

The guidance can be downloaded from: