5 Levels of Corporate governance of Safety - by Dr.Isabel Perry, 21stCenturySafety

The level of corporate responsibility for safety is varied in countries worldwide. In the UK there is a Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act enacted in 2007. If your corporate Board of Directors is looking for guidance on how they can champion the safety effort, the following information may help provide some structure.

5 Levels of Corporate Governance

  1. TRANSACTIONAL Does the board tend to see safety as a management responsibility? Does the board become engaged in safety only after an incident has occurred? Is the culture of the organization that production is the most important driver of the business success?
  2. COMPLIANT Is compliance with relevant workplace health and safety legislation the main driver of reporting to the board? Is the board focused primarily on ensuring the minimum legislation standards are met?
  3. FOCUSED Do board members ask detailed safety questions, often drilling down into the causes of incidents? Does your board consider site visits an important part of their safety leadership role?
  4. PROACTIVE Is there a sense that most board members ‘get’ health and safety? That is, they understand that a strong safety culture is much more than simply compliance but requires safety leadership inside and outside of the boardroom?
  5. INTEGRATED Does the board seek to understand the safety impacts of every decision made in the boardroom? Does the concept of ‘safe production’ set the tone for board discussions?


Board members need to establish a health and safety policy that is much more than a document. It should be an integral part of your organization's culture, of its values and performance standards

  • Health and safety should appear regularly on the agenda for board meetings.
  • The chief executive can give the clearest visibility of leadership, but some boards find it useful to name one of their members as the health and safety 'champion.'
  • The presence on the board of a health and safety director can be a strong signal that the issue is being taken seriously and that its strategic importance is understood.
  • Setting targets help define what the board is seeking to achieve.
  • A non-executive director can act as a scrutinizer - ensuring that the processes to support boards facing significant health and safety risks are robust.

Hopefully, the above information provides guidance for your organization. Please add additional comments or suggestions for Board of Directors. And, share and forward this to others who may find the information valuable. Thank you.

Contact me if you are seeking a safety consultant or safety keynote speaker on this topic. It would be my pleasure to work with your organization.

Some of the information in this blog was provided by WorkSafe and IOD New Zealand.

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