Directors are being urged to work more closely with employees to understand their health and safety needs and to lead by example.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has suggested that company leaders need to move away from a "box ticking" approach to health and safety.
Talking at the annual Rivers Lecture, Judith Hackitt, chair of the HSE, said that directors need to say away from a "do as I say, not as I do culture".
Commenting on the way forward, Ms Hackitt said: "Personal responsibility is fundamental to credibility and strong leadership. The first requirement is to get outside of the boardroom – visit workstations and talk to staff."
She suggested that leaders need to ask staff what they are concerned about in relation to health and safety issues.
Ms Hackitt also stressed the importance of ensuring that board members’ behaviour reflects instructions given to staff.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health recently urged the HSE to "beef up" the goals in its new strategy.