Recent Health and Safety Changes - Not for the Construction Industry

Recent Health and Safety Changes - Not for the Construction Industry

03rd November 2015

Following the Lofstedt Review of 2011 there have been some changes made recently to health and safety regulations here in the UK. As of October 1st, 2015, many self-employed workers are no longer covered by the health and safety requirements of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. Up until now, all self-employed workers have been required to make an assessment of the risks their work could pose and submit a report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This seemed an unnecessary burden on those whose work did not pose any risk to others and the reforms are designed to reduce the amount of compliance work undertaken by low risk professionals.

Since the implementation of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974, overall fatal, work-related accidents have fallen by a massive 87% and non-fatal incidents have fallen by more than 70%. The UK’s stringent legislation has served as inspiration for many other countries who have adopted similar regulations in order to protect their workforces.

Today we’re going to take a look at the new rules which have been designed to make health and safety issues easier to understand for businesses across the UK. While the new rules don’t mean that workers should not take all reasonable safety precautions that are consistent with the type of work being undertaken. Occupations and types of work where the rules still apply include construction, asbestos work, agriculture, gas work, railways and any self-employed person who has employees.

Fortunately, the rules will be simplified for companies employing less than four people and this change is expected to affect up to 2 million freelance workers in the UK. The new rules are expected to help save contractors in the UK up to £930,000 per year. Eligible contractors will no longer need to concern themselves with the prospect of facing tough penalties for violating health and safety guidelines, which will benefit smaller organisations and start-up companies that have limited access to capital.

Any workers who may be unsure about whether their work poses a risk to others are advised to check the HSE’s guidelines although the final decision is the responsibility of the contractors themselves.

However, self-employed people who work in the construction industry should not expect these changes to affect their work and the need to comply fully with health and safety legislation. The construction industry, by its very nature, is deemed one of the most risky businesses to work in and construction activities often pose a risk to others. Despite the health and safety legislation changes being in the news in recent weeks, those of us work in the construction industry still need to comply with the stringent health and safety legislation that we’ve become used to. This legislation is one of the contributing factors in making the UK one of the safest countries in the world in which to work.