The majority of self-employed people are very aware of the duties imposed on them under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASWA) 1974 and other relevant legislation. These new regulations have been agreed between the relevant bodies to hopefully reduce the burden on self-employed persons where their work activities are not deemed as posing a potential health and safety risk to other workers and members of the public.
The Health and Safety Executive estimate, following the introduction of the regulations around 1.7 million self-employed persons will no longer have duties under health and safety law.
Current Duties for Self-employed under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
3(2) it shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (General Duties of Self-Employed Persons) (Prescribed Undertakings) Regulations 2015
Self-employed still have a duty under HAWSA 1974 if:
- An undertaking as described in section 3(2) involves, carrying out one or more high risk activities listed in Schedule of the new regulations.
- The activity that is being carried out, may pose a risk to the health and safety of another person (not including self-employed or their employees).
High risk activities listed in the Schedule:
- Agriculture (including forestry)
- Genetically modified organisms
Duties for self-employed under the HASWA 1974 may NOT be imposed if:
- The work activity is not identified as an activity in the Schedule above, and
- By making your own judgement about your work activities, and you can evidence that that the work activities you carry out will NOT impose a risk to the health and safety of another person.
Remember: Every self- employed person continues to hold a duty in respect to their employees under section 2 of the HASWA 1974
The Secretary of state is required to carry out a review the operation and effect of the regulations before the initial review period (five years). They will publish a report that will set out
- objectives intended to be achieved by the regulatory system
- assess the extent to which those objectives are achieved
Following a review it will fall to the Secretary of State to consider whether the Regulations should remain as they are, or be revoked or be amended.
Industry specific examples
- self-employed hairdresser
Yes – If you use bleaching agents or similar chemicals then yes, the law will apply to you.
No – If you are simply washing and cutting hair, then health and safety law will no longer apply.
- A dressmaker Working from home altering garments and making soft furnishing
No – health and safety law will not apply to you.
- Running a cake business from home
No – health and safety law will not apply to you. But remember you requirements under food Hygiene legislation
- Working in an office from home
Yes- If you’re writing a manual, which someone will use to operate machinery, then the law will still apply.
No – if you’re working on a client’s accounts, even if clients visit you in your place of work, the law will no longer apply
- Health and Safety consultant visiting clients to give advice
Yes – your clients will act on your advice and this affects how other people do their job
(HSE – https://www.hse.gov.uk/self-employed/does-law-apply-to-me.htm)