What if I’m self-employed?
You might think as a self-employed person you don’t need to worry about health and safety. After all, you’re just looking after yourself. But since you’re the only person doing the work, it’s extra important to stay safe and healthy. If you employ or put others at risk, the law applies.
As a self-employed person, like everyone else, you will have a duty of care. This is a common-law responsibility, and it is outside and on top of health and safety laws. The duty of care applies to everyone, so it’s important to be aware of it.
For health and safety law purposes, ‘self-employed’ means that you do not work under a contract of employment and work only for yourself. The law only applies if you are self-employed and your work is specified (more on that below) or if other people may be exposed to risk from your work.
Only workers who meet the health and safety definition of self-employed, and DO NOT employ other workers, are granted exceptions under health and safety law. Also, you must not put others at risk, and you must not work in any of the scheduled activities:
- Genetically modified organisms
Does my industry put people ‘at risk’?
- Tradespeople – eg. electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, joiners
There are also some less obvious jobs where there is the chance of putting others at risk. This includes:
- Hairdressers & Beauticians – using chemicals and dyes
- Landlords – responsible for ensuring electrical & gas appliances are checked and in working order
- Industrial or commercial cleaning – using chemicals and potential use of work equipment, or work at height
- Home installations or works – eg. erecting wall mounted TV’s, gutter cleaning, window cleaning
- Mobile services – eg. hairdressers, massage therapists