In addition to owing a number of fiduciary duties to the company to which they are appointed, personal responsibility for directors can arise in a number of areas and under a variety of statutes. One such area is health and safety. An individual director, company secretary or manager of a company can be held criminally responsible for health and safety offences where the company itself is found guilty of a health and safety offence and the offence is committed with the consent or connivance of or was attributable to any neglect on the part of that individual.
It is accordingly essential that directors ensure that they are kept informed of the company's particular health and safety risks and performance and have in place suitable policies and procedures to manage any such risk.
The Institute of Directors ("IOD") recently published draft guidance on directors' responsibilities on health and safety at work. The Health and Safety Commission ("HSC") (which is responsible for health and safety regulation in Great Britain) issued official guidance on this topic in 2001. It is intended that the new guidance will replace the 2001 version.
The HSC determined last year that:
more needed to be done to get the health and safety message across at board level (encompassing the public, private and third sectors, including the voluntary and charitable sectors); and
that this was a key part of maintaining and improving health and safety...