Health and Safety for the Self Employed

Health and Safety for the Self Employed

Health and Safety for the Self Employed

Health and Safety for the Self Employed

During the last year significant changes have been made to health and safety legislation. Most of the recommendations of the Lofsted review have been implemented or are on track. The main idea behind most of the changes was to get rid of issues such as over compliance, too many unnecessary regulations, and too much paperwork but mostly to reduce the “where there’s blame there’s a claim” suing culture revolving around health and safety.

There is however still a significant amount of work to be done and the most difficult thing to change is people’s minds and ideas about health and safety culture. The government, regulators and institutions have always used there own risk and evidence based health and safety systems and are now going to get more involved with European regulations as well. This will obviously make our working lives safer.

There are many situations we encounter as safety advisors, when the only one to blame when an accident had happened is the big bad bear or employer. Authorities and employees in most cases are tending to blame management and bosses and ultimately those are the ones paying all the costs.

Under health and safety legislations, an employer is reasonably responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the employees. The duties under safety law of the employer includes the responsibility to make the work premises safe, raise awareness and clearly inform the workers of their exact obligations, provide the necessary safety training, give enough opportunities for the workforce to communicate their safety concerns.

The employee’s responsibilities include the obligation to be able to take care of themselves and other people affected by their work activity, co-operate at all times and comply with managements requirements on health and safety and not to interfere with any materials or recommendations provided to maintain their health, safety and welfare. If an employee feels exposed to safety risks or considers that the employer is not complying with its legal duties a legal complain should be made to the relevant authority.

Currently the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places general duties on everyone who is “at work” and this includes the self-employed. When assessing the duties and responsibilities of a self-employed person is not always straightforward. Depending on the industry the health and safety for the self-employed are working in, he or she could act in different occasions as an employer or as an employee and sometimes regulations apply for both at the same time.

Health and Safety for the Self Employed

The consultation conducted by the HSE between August and October last year has been based on the recommendations of the Lofsted review to relax regulations and duties for those self-employed whose work activities don’t pose a potential risk of harm to others, those not working in high-risk industries like office-related activities. The aim is to avoid the existing confusion in the law and clarify the obligations in the different business activities of self-employed. Any resulting changes should take effect along 2013.

Having a high standard of safety culture among management, workforce and the self-employed is not always an easy task. Developing and promoting such a standard saves lives and money. Hopefully the process of eliminating the extensive safety red tape will continue to save lives while in the meantime will ease the lives of business.

Health and Safety for the Self Employed was written by out health and safety consultants Lincoln

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