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August 3, 2012

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Consultations begin on self-employed and RIDDOR changes

The HSE has opened two separate consultations on proposals to exempt certain self-employed people from health and safety law and simplifying the RIDDOR reporting requirements.

The proposal to relieve certain self-employed people of health and safety legal obligations addresses one of the most controversial aspects of Professor Löfstedt’s review.

Since launching his report in November last year, the professor and the HSE have been at pains to stress that the exemption will not extend to those self-employed whose work activities pose a potential risk of harm to others, or who employ others. The changes, they say, will not apply to self-employed people who work in high-risk work environments, such as farms or building sites, and will not affect the duties that others have towards a self-employed person.

The HSE consultation document sets out three possible approaches to implement the recommendation, as well as a fourth option of keeping things as they are at present. The regulator’s preferred option is for a more prescriptive approach, which exempts the self-employed who pose no potential risk of harm to others and who do not work in a high-risk sector, as identified by the Government.

The proposed high-risk sectors, for which no exemption would be enacted, currently include:

  • agricultural activities;
  • construction;
  • quarries;
  • mining;
  • diving;
  • COMAH and sub-COMAH sites;
  • offshore activities; nuclear installations;
  • explosives; and
  • gas-fitting and installation.

“The purpose of the added qualification, which is not explicit in Professor Löfstedt’s recommendation, is to recognise the pitfalls of allowing exemptions in sectors of high hazard, or risk,” states the HSE. “This option should ensure that there is no dilution of the standards of legal protection where the application of health and safety law is warranted.”

 In a separate consultation, the HSE is also seeking views on proposals to simplify and clarify the reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences – another recommendation made by Professor Löfstedt. The proposals also seek to implement changes recommended by Lord Young in 2010, by re-examining whether the RIDDOR regime is the best approach to providing an accurate national picture of workplace accidents.

Suggested changes to RIDDOR include self-employed people no longer having to report injuries or illness to themselves, and the removal of both the duty on employers to report dangerous occurrences outside of high-risk sectors, or activities, and requirements to report most occupational diseases.

Fatal injuries to workers and members of the public, as a result of an employer’s work activity, will still need to be reported, as will major injuries to workers.

Explaining the reasons behind the proposals, HSE consultation manager David Charnock said: “We are proposing to simplify the requirements by removing the duty to report in those areas where the information can be better obtained from other sources, or where the data isn’t particularly useful to the regulators.€

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11 years ago

It would be very difficult to apply a filter across all industries to identify those individuals who do not pose a risk to health and safety. Evaluating individuals on a case by case basis would not be very practical. I think the best form of health and safety is the avoidance of accidents using behavioural safety training, which everyone should go through to understand risks.

11 years ago

John, it is really very simple. There are very h&s laws which apply to the self-employed, most duties fall on the employer. Very few self-employed ever get prosecuted, those that do are working in high risk industries and normally exposing other persons to unnaceptable risks – job done.