Reduction in the extent to which safety law applies to self-employed people

From 1 October 2015, the scope of self-employed persons subject to the duty set in section 3 of the HSWA will be amended by the Deregulation Act 2015.

15 September 2015

From 1 October 2015, the scope of self-employed persons subject to the duty set in section 3 of the HSWA will be amended by the Deregulation Act 2015 (Health and Safety at Work) (General Duties of Self-Employed Persons) (Consequential Amendments) Order 2015 (“the Regulations”).

The changes stem from the Löfstedt Report that recommended that those who pose no potential risk of harm to others should be relieved of some of the requirements of health and safety law. The aim of the recommendation was to bring the UK in line with other European countries that take a more proportionate approach to health and safety obligations.

At the moment section 3(2) of HSWA imposes a duty on all self-employed persons to protect, so far as is reasonably practicable, both themselves and others from health and safety risks regardless of the type of activity they are undertaking and the risks that they are creating.

The Regulations amend section 3(2) HSWA to limit the duty to only those self-employed persons who conduct undertakings of a description prescribed in regulations.

The Regulations set out that there will be no exemption from the duty owed under section 3(2) HSWA for a list of high risk activities including construction, agriculture and working on a railway. The HSE has updated its website to provide further guidance on the changes.

The Regulations also include what is being described as a “catch all” provision to ensure that those self-employed who may pose a risk to others are not exempt from section 3(2) HSWA.

The changes are most likely to affect small self-employed businesses but this demonstrates a small push forwards towards a more proportionate system similar to the rest of Europe.

The author Nicola Campbell is part of Burges Salmon's safety law practice led by Ann Metherall.

Key contact

Ann Metherall

Ann Metherall Partner

  • Head of Dispute Resolution
  • Head of Health and Safety
  • Transport

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