Overhaul of Health & Safety Legislation for Self-employed: Does it Affect You?

Generally, being self-employed means you do not work under a contract of employment, and that you work for yourself. If you are unsure of your employment status, you should consult HMRC for guidance.

When the New Rules Won’t Apply

Work activities which are deemed by their nature to be high risk will not be exempt; they will still be subject to the usual health and safety regulations. This includes work with or on:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Asbestos
  • Railways
  • Gas
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

Also, there is a clause included in the new legislation which details that other work activities not included in the above list that may present a risk to others will also not be exempt from health and safety law. The key therefore is to look at all of your work activities and see if anything you do could pose a risk to someone else. Could someone trip over your equipment? Could another person be harmed by breathing in a substance you use or produce? Self-employed people who employ others still have to abide by the usual duty to ensure that those in their employment are not exposed to risks to their health and safety, so there’s no change there. The message however is very clear – the responsibility lies on you as an individual to work out whether the new rules apply to you or not. Liability in terms of prosecution for health and safety offences could be an issue, so it’s essential to get it right.

What You Need to Do

Assuming your company’s work is straightforward, you should be able to work out from your own work activities as to whether or not the new rules apply. Looking at your current risk assessments for known hazards would be a good place to start. There may well be some confusion if you are using self-employed contractors on your work premises. It will pay to have an understanding of the nature of the work they will be undertaking as, if they deem they are exempt from health and safety law, they may well not be producing the usual health and safety documentation. It’s likely to mean that, in the future, a degree of trust will come into play as to whether a self-employed person has correctly assessed the risk from their work activities – so make sure you have discussed the job properly before it commences, for peace of mind.

Contact us for assistance.

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