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HSE consults on further relaxation of health and safety red tape
Posted by David Cant on July 14, 2014

Health and Safety Executive SignH&S at Work Act

Hot on the tail of the recent consultation regarding the future of HSE department provisions and oversight, the executive has announced another. This time the HSE is asking for feedback from interested parties about the potential for reducing health and safety obligations for self employed people.

Currently all self employed people are bound by Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. However the HSE is considering relaxing the application so that only those workers carrying out activities on a prescribed list need to meet the defined standards.

The Health and Safety Executive is particularly keen to hear from self-employed people engaged in the prescribed activities which include:

  • Working in roles which have high rates of injuries or fatalities.
  • Where there is a significant risk presented to members of the public, such as theme parks and fairgrounds.
  • Working where there is the potential for mass fatalities, such as power stations or with explosives.
  • Where European Union rules demand that that the self-employed person fulfills their own health and safety obligations, as is currently the case on building sites.

Any self-employed persons carrying out duties that are not on the prescribed list will then be exempt from most of the Health and Safety at Work legislation.

What is the point of the review?

The HSE is keen to hear back from people carrying out these activities to ensure that they fully understand the legal definitions outlined in Section 3(2). The overall goal of the review is not to decide whether the relaxation should go ahead, but how best to ensure that those still bound by the legislation fully understand:

  • If they are, or are not bound by the legislation.
  • Their duties under Section 3(2).

The consultation period will last eight weeks, closing on 31st August after which the HSE will analyse responses and report back on their findings. Veritas Consulting strongly urge any self-employed person working in one of these prescribed activities make use of the eight week consultation period to make their observations and feelings known to HSE. In doing so these freelance individuals will be better placed to perform their own jobs safely and in full compliance with the law.

What will the changes mean for you?

It is critically important to understand your health and safety obligations whether you are personally self-employed, or you are responsible for hiring contractors. If you cannot clearly define how the Health and Safety at Work legislation applies to your business, you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. It may be that under the new regime you need do nothing – but it could be a costly, dangerous mistake in the event your own assessment is wrong.

So over to you – what difference would the proposed changes make to the way in which you work? Do you need further advice about how best to proceed?


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. Fluent in practical advice. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the Director of life at Veritas Consulting.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

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