Line Managers Have a Big Responsibility for Health and Safety
The managers of an organisation play a vital role in shaping the health and safety of their company. From the creation of the health and safety policy, organising the provision of health and safety training for staff members, to making sure that policies and procedures are being followed, managers have these responsibilities and more for ensuring that the workplace is as safe as is reasonably practical for their employees and everyone nearby. In addition to this, they need to ensure that the business complies with all applicable legislation (which frequently changes) meaning that they need to keep up to date with those amendments that require them to make alterations within their company.
When discussing managerial responsibilities for health and safety, thoughts will primarily be focused on senior managers and directors, as it is them who set the direction for health and safety and how seriously it needs to be taken. In numerous health and safety articles on this site including "Managers and Health and Safety", "Management Responsibilities for Health and Safety" and "How Can Managers Promote a Health and Safety Culture?" we have seen that the attitude of senior management influences to a great extent the approach and attitudes of workers in terms of how seriously they take health and safety. If senior managers do not take health and safety seriously or, even worse, actively instruct employees to bypass or ignore safety regulations in order to get the job done quicker, then the probability of accidents and incidents occurring in the workplace increase significantly.
The Responsibility of Line Managers
However it is not just senior manager and directors which have an important part to play. Line managers also have a key responsibility for the creation and maintenance of health and safety in the company. Assuming that the directors and senior managers are in fact keen on complying with health and safety legislation and maintaining a safe place of work, then they will rely upon their line managers to implement and monitor such provisions, as well as acting as a conduit for feedback and safety improvement suggestions from workers on the shop floor back up to the boardroom.
Line managers therefore need to be people whom senior managers can trust, and not be willing to compromise safety in order to achieve certain targets and make themselves look better in the process. Responsible senior managers would much prefer a job to miss a deadline or go over budget rather than put people's health and safety at risk and all the negative repercussions which come to all concerned in the event of an accident or incident.
The management training they receive before taking up the role and during their tenure should include training in health and safety issues. Along with training in management responsibilities and other associated areas such as leadership and effective communication, health and safety courses which outline and examine the responsibilities of line managers from a health and safety perspective should also be completed. Typical examples include the IOSH Managing Safely and NEBOSH General Certificate courses, and will depend upon the nature of the industry and the responsibilities of the line manager in question.