Plans to Exempt Self-Employed People from Health and Safety Law do not apply to construction

Plans to Exempt Self-Employed People from Health and Safety Law do not apply to construction

The Health & Safety Executive has invited views on the proposed definitions of those self-employed people who will continue to have duties under health and safety law.

Under current proposals self-employed persons will be exempt from Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) except those undertaking activities on a prescribed list.

On Monday 7 July HSE launched an online consultation which explains the prescribed activities, as well as seeking views on the proposed definitions.

The consultation runs for eight weeks and closes on 31 August 2014. Responses will be analysed once it is closed.

About the Consultation
This consultative document (CD) sets out the principles of how the Government proposes that self-employed persons, except those undertaking activities on a prescribed list, will be exempted from section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA).

The CD seeks views on:

the clarity of the definitions in the draft regulations (Annex 1)
the costs and benefits of the proposed changes as per Impact Assessment (Annex 2).
Background
The Deregulation Bill (that contains this exemption clause) was subject to scrutiny by a Pre-legislative Scrutiny Joint Committee, which suggested that confusion could arise as a result of the way the clause was drafted. In particular, it was suggested the clause was unclear for those self-employed persons who retained duties under section 3(2).

Proposed Changes
As a result, the Government thought that a more specific prescribed list could better inform people as to whether or not they were now exempt. The clause has therefore been amended so that all self-employed persons will be exempt from the law unless they conduct an “undertaking of a prescribed description.” The CD explains that an undertaking will be prescribed if one of the following four criteria is met:

there are high numbers of self-employed in a particular industry and high rates of injuries and/or fatalities (e.g. agriculture);
there is a significant risk to members of the public (e.g. fairgrounds);
there is the potential for mass fatalities (e.g. explosives); or
there is a European obligation to retain the general duty on self-employed persons (e.g. construction – Council Directive 92/57/EEC imposes duties on the self-employed for safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites).
The draft regulations at Annex 1 detail those high hazard industries and activities which will not be exempt from section 3(2) of HSWA. It is intended that those activities undertaken by self-employed persons not on this prescribed list will be exempt.

Sarah Wadham from the Health and Safety Executive says:

“We are keen to hear from self-employed people who carry out these prescribed activities. Health and safety law will still apply to them and we need to ensure that legal definitions are clear and easy for them to understand.

We also want to provide clear health and safety guidance to all self-employed workers in an accessible way. Feedback from this consultation will be invaluable in helping us do this.”

Anybody wishing to have a say on the proposals should visit the HSE website today.”

The proposed changes are still subject to parliamentary clearance, and if approved, are likely to come into effect in 2015.

For further information please visit the HSE website:-

http://www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/cd273.htm