We previously reported on the changes proposed by the government in May 2013 (click here), exempting certain self-employed workers from health and safety law. The proposals have now been published in draft form, to be scrutinised by a joint committee of MPs and peers.
Clause 1 of the bill amends section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which currently imposes a duty upon every organisation to conduct its trade, business or other undertaking and to matters within his control, so far as is reasonably practicable, so that not only their employees but also persons not in their employ but who may be affected thereby, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. The changes will amend "undertaking" to "relevant undertaking".
The bill sets out that an undertaking is a relevant undertaking if (a) it is of a prescribed description, or (b) persons who may be affected by the way in which it is conducted, other than the person conducting it (or his employees), could thereby be exposed to risks to their health and safety. The question of what activity constitutes a "prescribed undertaking" is to be defined by regulation, to ensure that the duty imposed by section 3 continues to apply to all self employed persons who conduct their undertaking in a high risk sector or activity. As we reported previously, it is still not entirely clear what impact these changes will have in practice.
When the bill was announced in the Queen's speech, the government stated that the intention was to remove unnecessary burden, "scrapping health & safety rules for self-employed workers in low risk occupations, formally, exempting 800,000 people from health & safety regulation and saving business an estimated £300,000 a year". These changes form part of the Red Tape Challenge which the government states has already saved businesses £212 million a year. The second phase of the Red Tape Challenge is now due to start.