Directors H&S Liability (Section 37 of the H&S at Work Act)

Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act deals with the offences that a body corporate, such as an organisation or a company, may commit. If it is established that an offence has been committed by a body corporate, it may be proven that the offence was carried out with the consent, connivance or neglect of any of its officers, such as directors, managers, or secretaries. In such cases, the body corporate and the individuals involved may be held responsible and charged with the offence.

The concept of consent refers to permission granted by an individual for a particular activity to occur. For example, in the context of a body corporate, if an offence has been committed with the consent of one of its officers, it indicates that the officer had knowledge of the activity and may have played a role in facilitating it.

Connivance, on the other hand, refers to the willingness to allow or be secretly involved in an immoral or illegal activity. This implies that the officer in question may have actively assisted in committing the offence or turned a blind eye to it.

Neglect, in the legal sense, refers to the failure to care properly and may include situations where the officer ought to have been aware of certain circumstances but failed to take appropriate action. For example, if a manager fails to implement adequate safety measures, resulting in an accident, they may be charged with neglect.

Section 37 ensures that body corporates and their officers are held accountable for their actions. By making it possible to charge and convict individuals who have acted with consent, connivance, or neglect, the legislation is a deterrent against illegal or immoral activities carried out by body corporates.