When the Health and Safety at Work Act was originally introduced back in 1974 it included a provision to cover not only those working in large businesses, but also people in the UK who are self-employed.
Interestingly this makes the UK unusual amongst many European nations, where such regulations are usually reserved solely for those with professions that involve work in explicitly hazardous environments.
As a result many small traders are backing the move to provide exemption from the act for self-employed people in Britain, whose work poses no risk to other people. Supporters say the change could collectively save this group of workers almost £5 million by 2025.
The reason for some self-employed people being in a different position to most is that their actions during working hours tend to put no third parties at risk. As such, experts are convinced that this means exemption from the health and safety law is sensible. However, MPs are keen to make sure that any change in H&S legislation is carried out in such a way that makes clear who has exemption.
Undoing the Act
The Deregulation Act, was introduced over the course of 2015, provides provisions for changes to health and safety legislation that would impact self-employed people. Although it is important to remember that even with the alteration to certain legal obligations, this is no excuse for those working from home not to take safety seriously. One key area in which many self employed people lack knowledge and expertise is in desk ergonomics. Sitting for long periods of time on incorrect chairs can cause long term back complaints. It is important that the correct Operator Chairs are used. You can find examples of these at places such as https://www.bestbuy-officechairs.co.uk/office-chairs/operator-chairs/ Other areas for consideration include any trip and slip hazards in home offices and the provisions for fire safety.
If you are self-employed and your home is also your workplace, it is vital that you still maintain excellent health and safety standards, even if this is no longer legally enforceable in the future.
All Systems Go
The importance of fire safety systems is apparent from regular stories of sprinkler systems saving lives and property from potentially catastrophic blazes, such as the much publicised blaze at a hostel in Brighton.
Of course, self-employed people have a responsibility to themselves to follow safe methods of working and should ensure they stay up-to-date with H&S good practice – whatever the law might say in the future.