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|Health And Safety (Directors' Duties) Bill|
These notes refer to the Health and Safety (Directors' Duties) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 12th January 2005 [Bill 22]
HEALTH AND SAFETY (DIRECTORS' DUTIES) BILL
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Health and Safety (Directors' Duties) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 12th January 2005. They have been prepared in order to assist the reader of the Bill. They do not form part of the Bill.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill.
3. The main purpose of the Bill is to impose an obligation upon all company directors to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their company is complying with health and safety law.
4. The Bill also imposes an obligation upon large companies to appoint a director with responsibility for health and safety information, to ensure that the company has the procedures that will allow this director to undertake his duties and to make adequate arrangements within the company so that the health and safety information director can carry out his duties.
5. The Bill states that the health and safety information director has a duty to take all reasonable steps to obtain safety information concerning the company and to pass this information to the board.
6. The Bill also imposes an obligation upon the directors to take account of any information and advice provided to them by the health and safety information director.
[Bill 22EN] 53/4
7. The Government, in its strategy document, Revitalising Health and Safety, published in June 2000, set out the importance of the conduct of directors to the health and safety of companies, and stated that it was the intention of Ministers to introduce legislation on directors' responsibilities when parliamentary time allowed.
CLAUSE 1: HEALTH AND SAFETY INFORMATION DIRECTORS
8. Clause 1(2) amends section 282 of the Companies Act 1985 by imposing an additional duty upon those companies which are neither small nor medium companies (as defined by section 247 of the Companies Act 1985) to nominate one of its directors as 'health and safety information director'.
9. Clause 1(3) amends section 364 of the Companies Act 1985 so that the name of the health and safety information director is required to be set out in the company's annual return.
CLAUSE 2: DIRECTORS' DUTIES
10. Clause 2(2) amends the Companies Act 1985 by inserting four new sections in that Act after section 309C.
11. Section 309D of the Companies Act 1985 imposes a duty upon directors of all companies to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their company is complying with the obligations imposed upon it by applicable health and safety law. The applicable law is defined as the following
12. Section 309D also imposes a duty upon the directors of those companies which have a duty to nominate a health and safety information director to take into account the information and advice of that director when assessing what steps to comply with the duty that is imposed upon them. Section 309D also imposes a further duty upon these directors to make adequate arrangements within the company so that the health and safety information director can obtain the necessary information to carry out his functions.
13. Subsection (1) of section 309E of the Companies Act 1985 sets out the duties of the nominated health and safety information director. These are divided into three parts. Subsection (1)(a) requires them to inform the other directors "not less than four times a year", of:
14. Subsection (1)(b) requires the nominated director to inform other directors promptly in relation to:
15. Subsection (1)(c) requires health and safety information directors to inform the board on the health and safety implications of its decisions.
16. Section 309F of the Companies Act 1985 states that in determining what steps need to be taken by directors to meet the requirements of the duties imposed upon them, they should give consideration to any code of practice issued or approved by the Health and Safety Commission.
17. Section 309G of the Companies Act 1985 states that Part 1 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 shall have effect as if sections 309D and 309E of the 1985 Act were existing statutory provisions within the meaning of Part 1 of the 1974 Act.
CLAUSE 3: AMENDMENT OF THE HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK ETC. ACT 1974
18. The amendment of section 16 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 ensures that the HSC has the power to issue codes of practice in relation to the matters in Clause 1 of the Bill.
19. The Bill extends to England, Wales and Scotland. Health and Safety is a 'reserved matter' under the Scotland Act 1998.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2005||Prepared: 25 January 2005|