On 2 August 2012 the HSE commenced a three month consultation on proposals to exempt self-employed workers from health and safety legislation following recommendations made in the Löfstedt report. In November 2011 Professor Löfsted’s independent review of health and safety regulations recommended that self-employed workers be exempt from health and safety law if their work activities pose no potential risk to others. The government endorsed this view and requested that the HSE draw up proposals to give this recommendation effect.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places duties upon self-employed people to ensure that they and others affected by their activities are not exposed to harm. In addition, over 50 regulations exist which apply to self-employed workers either expressly or through a broader category of ‘person’. Löfsted commented that such a proposed exemption from these laws would benefi t around one million people.

In the consultation document the HSE proposes three alternative options for implementation of this recommendation:

Option 1:

Option 1 would allow an exemption for self-employed workers if the following preconditions are met:

  • they are self-employed
  • they do not employ anyone
  • when carrying out their work activities/conducting their undertaking or by the products and services created by the work activities, they pose no potential risk of harm to others.

Option 2:

Option 2 would allow an exemption for self-employed workers if the following preconditions are met:

  • they are self-employed
  • they do not employ anyone
  • when carrying out their work activities/conducting their undertaking or by the products and services created by the work activities, they pose no potential risk of harm to others
  • they do not work in a prescribed industry/sector/site/activity (referred to as ‘prescribed sectors’). These are a combination of high hazard and high risk sectors.

Proposed prescribed sectors include; agricultural activities, construction, quarries, mining, diving, COMAH and sub-COMAH sites, offshore activities, nuclear installations, explosives and gas fi tting and installation.

Option 3:

Option 3 would allow an exemption for self-employed workers if the following preconditions are met:

  • they are self-employed
  • they do not employ others
  • their work solely consists of offi ce-type activities
  • when carrying out their work activities/conducting their undertaking or by the products and services created by the work activities, they pose no potential risk of harm to others.

The HSE makes a preference towards option 2, which provides the exemption only for self-employed workers who do not work in a high-hazard, high-risk sector. It is stated that the list of prescribed sectors would be kept under review to ensure that it remains appropriate.

The consultation ran from 2 August to 28 October 2012. The consultation paper can be viewed at www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/cd242.htm