Freelancers on verge of health & safety exemption

Ministers are this week expected to make good the government’s promise of slashing red tape for the majority of the self-employed by exempting them from Health and Safety rules.

In a move bound to please business support groups, the Cabinet Office will say that self-employed traders “whose work activity poses no potential risk of harm to others” will be free from H&S requirements.

Only those self-employed people in so-called ‘high risk’ professions, expected to be include construction and farming, will fail to qualify for the exemption, which was recommended by the Löfstedt review.

As a result, the government is expected to publish a list of occupations regarded as too potentially dangerous to be free from the Health and Safety Work Act (1974), but will be subject to consultation.

But this doesn’t go far enough, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, which believes that the criterion to exempt self-employed people ‘whose work activity poses no potential risk of harm to others’ is “dangerous.”

The IOSH warned: “It leaves open the possibility that some self-employed workers will be exempt from the law even though their work activity may pose a risk of harm to others.”

However there will be no exemption from companies or organisations that engage freelancers for services, as their H&S duties towards the self-employed will remain the same.

For their part, ministers say the exemption will stop self-employed people in low-risk occupations from being stifled by unnecessary, overcomplicated and contradictory rules, while freeing them up from time-consuming risk assessment forms.


24th February 2014

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