What health and safety responsibilities do I have as a self-employed worker in the UK?

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As a self-employed worker you still have to follow certain rules and regulations when it comes to health and safety. The safety of the people around you is essential for your business proceedings. Here are some of those rules and the measures that you may need to take.

Regulations around self-employed workers and H&S

A ‘self-employed' person is someone who is not employed by a company and controls their own employment and work schedule. Someone who runs a self-employed business and employs other people needs to follow the regulations. However, who falls in the category of being self-employed and who doesn’t is sometimes not easy to understand, which is why it can be a good idea to check the HMRC website.

Mainly, H&S law only applies if your work poses a risk to other workers or the public.

If this definition applies to you then you may need to follow certain health and safety laws.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), “the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (General Duties of Self-Employed Persons) (Prescribed Undertakings) Regulations 2015, says:

  • if your work activity is specifically mentioned in the regulations
  • or if your work activity poses a risk to the health and safety of others, then the law applies to you”.

Some of the industries and areas which the law covers are:

  1. Agriculture and forestry
  2. Construction
  3. Gas
  4. Genetically modified organisms
  5. Railways

When working in environments affected by Asbestos or working with Asbestos directly it is also important to follow safety laws. You can find further resources on each of these areas, such as how to stay safe and healthy while working with Asbestos.

Health and safety measures need to be taken where necessary, to protect yourself and others working for or with you and members of the public. Since you are an expert in your field you most likely already know how to avoid putting yourself and others at risk, but if you are unsure, then make sure to take part in the proper training.

The Health and Safety Executive provides an example: “If you operate a fairground ride for the public to use then your work could affect the health and safety of other people and you must take appropriate steps to protect them as the law will apply to you.”

Protecting other workers

Appropriate PPE needs to be provided to those working with you in order to keep them safe at the workplace. Items like high-vis clothing should be provided where necessary. Depending on the environment, this could be a simple high-vis shirt, a vest or even an entire outfit that ensures that workers can be seen clearly, for example when working on construction sites around heavy machinery. Other measures like fall protection should be provided when working from heights and so on.

Protecting the public

If your work poses a risk to the public nearby then protective barriers, such as railings or bollards, need to be set up. Warning signs may also be necessary to safely guide pedestrians around construction areas and keep them safe.