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EXEMPTING THE SELF-EMPLOYED FROM H&S LAWS

Low-risk self-employed architects to remain subject to HSW Act etc

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) currently imposes a general duty on self-employed people to conduct their work in such a way that they and other persons affected by their work are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

In March 2011 the Minister for Employment asked Professor Ragnar Löfstedt to conduct an independent review of health and safety regulations to identify opportunities to simplify the rules. 

One of the key recommendations from his review was to exempt from health and safety law those self-employed people whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others.

Prescribed high-hazard / high-risk sectors must still comply 

The Impact Assessment now signed off by the Minister proposes exempting from health and safety law the self-employed who do not put others at risk at any point in the normal course of their work, except if they work in certain industries. This is said to deliver both a high number of exemptions and also greater clarity regarding who is/is not exempt. 

The prescribed list will be kept under review by HSE to ensure it remains appropriate. The purpose of this added qualification “recoginses the pitfalls of allowing exemptions in sectors of high hazard or risk”.

Those who work in the prescribed sectors e.g. construction,  and pose only an occasional risk will nevertheless need to ensure that they meet their requirements under health and safety law.

HSE state that this approach would ensure those who work in the prescribed sectors but are office based would still fall within the scope of the law, e.g. an architect.

The prescribed sectors are all high hazard, high-risk sectors namely: construction; agricultural activities; quarries; mining; diving; COMAH5 sites; offshore activities; nuclear installations; explosives; gas fitting and installation; railways.

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