Company directors and senior managers could face prosecution for workplace health and safety offences, according to a warning from the Health and Safety Authority today.

The Authority has launched a new publication - Guidance for Directors and Senior Managers on their Responsibilities for Workplace Safety and Health - which urges bosses to prioritise safety and health management.

Anyone convicted of a serious breach of the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act could face a fine of up to €3m or two years in jail. The act imposes new responsibilities on company directors and senior managers who can now be held personally responsible for organisational breaches of health and safety law.

59 people have died in workplace accidents so far this year, with almost 6,000 non-fatal injuries reported to the Health and Safety Authority.

Improving health and safety practices needs the input of senior management,' commented Martin O'Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority.

'Health and safety policy has to be embedded at the most senior levels of an organisation, ' he cautioned.

A nationwide advertising campaign incorporating press, radio and online elements will promote this guidance document and a significant media spend has been allocated to ensure the message is widely received.