Self Employed? How Does The New Health & Safety Law Affect You?

In 2011, it was recommended by the Loftstedt Review that those who are self employed, and carry out work that poses no health and safety risks to the wider public, should be exempt from health and safety laws.

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The UK Government accepted that recommendation and, in response, drafted the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (General Duties of Self Employed Persons) (prescribed undertakings) Regulations 2015.

That legislation comes into force on 01 October 2015 and it is estimated that 1.7 million people will be affected.

Those who will no longer be subject to health and safety legislation include professions such as accountants, financial advisors, online traders and graphic designers whether working from home or in an office.

Who does the law still apply to?

Only certain work activities will now be subject to health and safety law due to their high risk.

If your work activity is involved in the following, the law will still apply to you:-

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Gas
  • Railways
  • Asbestos
  • Genetically Modified Organisms

Are you self-employed?

You are considered self employed if you do not work under a contract and only work for yourself.

What if you are self-employed but employ other people?

If you are self-employed but employ others then the law will still apply to you as you hold a duty in respect of your employees.

What is classified as a ‘risk’?

A work activity, even if it falls outwith one of the main listed industries, may still pose a risk if there is a likelihood of someone being harmed as a consequence. E.g. Machinery, Fairground rides, hairdresser using chemicals.

It is always important to consider the work that you are doing and ask yourself if it poses a risk or could pose a risk.

It is also irrelevant whether you work from home, in an office or outdoors as it is the nature of the work that is important.