I am Self Employed. Does Health and Safety apply to me?


Self Employed professionals often ask us if health and safety regulations apply to them and their business. This article intends to alleviate some common misconceptions and provide you with more accurate information to help protect yourself from the risks at your workplace.

As a self-employed professional, you may think you do not need to worry about health and safety. Above all, it is essential to determine if you are self-employed from a health and safety perspective.

Health and Safety regulations can apply to you if you are self-employed.

You are classified as 'self-employed' if you run your own business and submit self-assessed tax returns to the HMRC.

The Deregulation Act, which became law in 2015, changed the health and safety obligations for self-employed workers and contractors and sometimes can cause misunderstanding.

Therefore, as a self-employed professional, it's your responsibility to know if the Health and Safety at work act 1974 applies to you.

Do you work with risks or hazards?

Do you know how to identify risk?

Can you correctly determine if the law applies to you and your business?

Most self-employed people will know if their work poses a risk to others from a health and safety perspective; however, you must consider the nature of the job you are doing and judge this for yourself.

Does what I do present a Health and Safety risk or not?

It is vital to know the Health and Safety risks your work presents.

For example, if you operate a fairground ride for the public to use, your work could affect other people's health and safety, and you must take appropriate steps to protect them as the law will apply to you.

As a brief guide, Health and Safety at work act 1974 does apply to you if you are self-employed and work with or in:

  • Construction (on a construction site or any work with a project carried out by a designer, client, or contractor)

  • Asbestos

  • Gas (any activity to which the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 apply)

  • Asbestos

  • Railways

  • Agriculture

  • Work involving chemicals

  • Genetically modified organisms

As a self-employed person, you may think you do not need to worry about health and safety, but it is crucial to determine if you are self-employed from a health and safety perspective.

In November 2011, Professor Löfstedt submitted an independent review to the Government, by request, regarding health and safety legislation and some of the misunderstandings that often surrounding this frequent query may originate from this review.

Professor Löfstedt recommended that those who are self-employed and whose work activities pose NO potential risk of harm to others should be exempt from Health and Safety Law.

The Government accepted the recommendations, and from 1st October 2015, the Health and Safety Law no longer applied to some self-employed workers.

For health and safety purposes, the HSE has defined self-employed, meaning "you do not work under a contract of employment and work only for yourself."

If, as a self-employed person, you employ others to help in your work activities such as :

  • Construction (on a construction site or any work with a project carried out by a designer, client, or contractor)

  • Asbestos

  • Gas (any activity to which the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 apply)

  • Asbestos

  • Railways

  • Agriculture

  • Work involving chemicals

  • Genetically modified organisms

The law WILL apply to you as you will have a Duty of Care to others.

Let's look into more detail regarding work activities, such as tradespeople, landlords, or even nail technicians.

Even though they may not have employees, their work does involve a possible risk to others.

The best way to answer the question is to think about the nature of the work you do and look at what risks your work activities possess, not only to yourself but also to others, such as:


· The public

· Employees

· Customers

· Clients

· Contractors

· Tenants

If you can see risk to others, then the Health and Safety Law will apply to you.


Still unsure if the law applies to you? We are here to help if you have any queries.

Embark Consulting has a team of Consultants who can offer self-employed advice and alleviate any concerns you may have relating to Health and Safety Regulations.

Get in touch anytime for more information on the services we provide.