RoSPA members to contribute to directors duties debate

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is seeking its members' views on the best way to enhance the director-level leadership of health and safety within businesses and organisations.

The results of the safety charity's formal members' survey, launched this week, will be presented to the Health and Safety Executive, which is investigating the effectiveness of guidance currently issued to directors and senior managers about their health and safety responsibilities.

Central to discussions about directors' duties is the question of whether further guidance or stronger regulatory intervention is required to enhance the leadership of accident and ill health prevention. RoSPA members are being asked whether they favour guidance or regulation as the best way to motivate directors, taking into consideration issues such as liability, red tape burdens and clarity.

Delegates at RoSPA's Occupational Safety and Health at Work Congress, taking place in Birmingham tomorrow (May 13), also have the chance to join the debate.

The conference will consider the motion that "a stronger regulatory approach is needed to ensure director leadership of health and safety at work". Lawrence Waterman, chairman of Sypol Ltd, will speak in favour of the motion and Ian Dormer, managing director of Rosh Engineering Ltd, will speak against it.

RoSPA, a Society which has both individual and corporate members, has helped lead the national debate on enhancing director leadership of health and safety since 1998, when it launched its DASH (Director Action on Health and Safety) initiative.

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA occupational safety adviser, said: "The issue is not new but the introduction of the offence of corporate manslaughter has meant that director and senior management behaviour in preventing avoidable harms has come under closer scrutiny than ever before.

"At present, there is a sharp divide between those who favour more regulation and those who prefer guidance.

"All sides agree, however, that effective director leadership of health and safety can never be regarded as an optional extra and that, in practice, it is a critical factor in securing good health and safety performance."

Places are still available at RoSPA's congress which will take place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, at the National Exhibition Centre, alongside Safety & Health Expo 2009. For the first time, the annual event will feature a keynote question and answer session during which Geoffrey Podger, HSE chief executive, will face questions from Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA chief executive, about future HSE strategy.

On Thursday (May 14), attention will turn towards the management of workplace transport and occupational road risk - the two biggest causes of work-related fatalities - at RoSPA's Practical Transport Solutions conference at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel. Places are still available at the event.

Both conferences are running in association with the HSE. See for more details, email or call 0121 248 2120. See for more information about Expo, Europe's largest annual health and safety exhibition.

See for more information about RoSPA's DASH initiative.

The RoSPA members' survey will close on June 5.