Firstly what is the definition of a self-employed person in H&S terms? A self-employed person is an individual who works for gain or reward otherwise than under a contract of employment, whether or not they employ others.
Currently H&S Legislation places general duties on everyone “at work” (including the self-employed), the only differences that appear is when different pieces of Legislation refer to the number of employees. For example the need for a written H&S Policy is only required where there are 5 or more employees and the same for Risk Assessments. There is no mention of a Risk-based approach.
It is proposed that from 6 April 2015, certain self-employed persons will be exempt from the general duty in respect of themselves and other persons (not being their employees), except those undertaking activities on a prescribed list. (The prescribed list is to enable self-employed persons to establish if they are exempt from unnecessary perceived requirements, whilst still ensuring important protections are in place for those that need it.)
What does this mean to you if you are currently self-employed? Is your business (undertaking) one of the following criteria? If so then you will not be exempt from the Regulations.
• Any agricultural activity
• Landscaping including the creation, maintenance and management of parks, gardens,
• Construction work
• Equipment and plant. Examination, maintenance and testing (as prescribed)
• Health & social care
• Waste Management
The prescribed list is designed to strike a balance between the need to free self-employed persons from unnecessary perceived requirements, whilst still providing the important protections to those who need it.
Unfortunately H&S gets a bad name for lots of red-tape or box-ticking, however if managed properly this is not the case. If you are a self-employed person, you need to ensure that you have available to your Client/Insurer etc evidence that you are managing H&S. Imagine if you had an accident or harmed a member of the public, how will you demonstrate to them that you complied with the law if nothing is documented?
Worse still people who control the workplace where self-employed people work (often bogus-self-employed) will wrongly think that they do not have any duty of care to them. Self-employed people who employ others may interpret it as meaning that they are exempt from the law – this is not the case!!
If you are not self-employed but instead employ the services of self-employed persons, please remember that you have the duty of care for that individual and you have to demonstrate that you are managing them as a “Contractor” in terms of health and safety.
This change in legislation is only proposed. Don’t forget if you are within the Construction Industry there are bigger changes for you with CDM 2015, article can be found here.