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VIDEO - Director's Responsibilities

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 

Hello I'm Helen Turner from Innovative Safety Solutions. I'm here on behalf of SafeWorkers.co.uk to talk to you about Health and Safety and Directors' responsibilities.

You first need to understand who "in the eyes of the law" is a Director. In the accused in R and Bow was the assistant general manager of a bookshop owned by his employers.

He was in charge of the shop during the General Manager's absence when the offence was committed. The court held that he did not fall within the term "director" in that he could be regarded as having responsibility only for the day to day running of the shop. He did not have a governing role in respect of the company's affairs.

It therefore follows that the persons charged should be in a position to change working practices. So from that piece of case law, we can understand that a Director is somebody in a position to change working practices.

Proceedings under Section 37 will require proof of the following elements:

Firstly that an offence has been committed under any of the relevant statutory provisions, by a body corporate,

That the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of or has been attributable to any neglect on the part of the accused

That the person accused is a Director, so this is somebody who can change working practices, Manager, Secretary or other similar office or a person proportion to an act in any such capacity.

Consent and connivance imply both knowledge and a decision made on such knowledge. Remember that ignorance is no defense in the eyes of the law.

In Armer and Schene, the Director of Roads for Strathclyde regional council was successfully prosecuted under Section 37. On the grounds that the offences committed by the council were attributable to his neglect, in that he had failed to produce a written safety policy for his department Dover Council had required him to.

The court held that although the Director of Roads was not a "director" in the sense of the word as used, in Section 37. It was clear that he came within the category of manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate.

So just to recap, if you have the responsibility of a Director, Manager or Secretary and you can change and do change working practices, then you in the eyes of the law, and under this act Section 37, you could be found negligent in the eyes of the law.

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