Responsibility and accountability are often confused with each other or used synonymously, but they have slightly different meanings.
As a manager, you will be responsible for the performance of certain tasks that have been delegated to you and, depending on your position within the organisation, you will have the ability to delegate certain tasks to others, but you will remain accountable for them.
For example, if you manage your own department, you may be responsible for risk assessment within your department. But if it’s a large department, you won’t be able to conduct all the risk assessments yourself, so you delegate the task amongst your subordinate managers. They then become responsible for the performance of those risk assessments, but you will still be accountable, i.e., if they’re not done to an acceptable standard, it is you who must account for that to your own line management.
So although managers can delegate responsibility to team members the accountability remains with the manager.
Manager’s duties will vary from workplace to workplace, but some typical health and safety responsibilities are to ensure that:
- lines of communication with the workforce are established and that workers are engaged and involved in the management of workplace risks
- employees have been informed, instructed and trained regarding relevant hazards and appropriate safeguards and are competent to do their jobs safely
- the significant hazards and risks in their area of responsibility have been identified and are being effectively controlled
- monitoring systems are established and operating effectively to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of control