How to comply
Increasingly, members are being asked to provide Risk Assessments to those booking them and this is often being added into contracts.
To try and help you deal with this, the situation is set out in this briefing note.
The health and safety law sets out the requirement for employers (including the self-employed) to carry out Risk Assessments. Recently, the government has been indicating that this will not apply to the self-employed whose working does not affect others.
For most of our members this does not apply. We regard it as good practice to do a Risk Assessment for those times you are working alone (including practice and rehearsal or working on computers) to ensure your own health and safety and to make sure you don’t slip into bad habits.
The main legislation is the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations, but there are other regulations that have more specific provisions, like the Manual Handling Regulations.
You do not need to know all the details to start doing a Risk Assessment.
It is a straightforward process of listing what you do, the hazards and risks you may face and then what you will do to eliminate or reduce the risks (an action plan of what you are going to do practically). So, for instance, for electrical equipment you should have it tested on a regular basis and do a visual test as you set it out for use.
What you need to do for yourself and other workers
As a self-employed/freelance worker you have to carry out a Risk Assessment for both yourself and for how you interact with other freelancers. This is essentially to list the tasks you carry out, the possible risks and what you are doing to reduce them.
This will cover things like electrical equipment (including use of lights), manual handling, vehicles used for transport, special effects, noise, musculoskeletal problems (including looking at and considering how you work physically and the aches and strains that may result, your seating, posture and so on), working outside and working on temporary structures.
It is all basic common sense — listing what you do and what you have to look out for, and any measures that you take to deal with them. This will include how you interact with others, which covers those people that you may work closely with, such as in a band or orchestra, but also those you may work with at a venue or on a programme of different acts. It also covers how you do rehearsals and practice, particularly for noise exposure or musculoskeletal matters.
The easy way to do this is draw up your own list, or use the HSE drawn-up template.
Fill it out and keep it as a guide, but check it regularly to see if it needs updating, or modify it if going into a new or different situation with different risks.
What to provide to those booking or employing you
It is okay for you to be asked to provide a Risk Assessment for those booking you, but the information to be provided only needs to relate to how you are going to work for that contract.
You may find that your own Risk Assessment does this sufficiently but, generally, it would be best to do a specific Risk Assessment for the situation of the contract.
This may be based on a general Risk Assessment you do for such work, but it does need to cover the specific conditions you will experience, including things like the effects that difficulty of access may have on the manual handling of gear, or the way that poor acoustics may affect noise exposure.
The main points will usually cover electrical equipment and its testing, getting gear into the venue, nature of the venue (size, acoustics and so on; and if you are taking a vehicle to the venue, its parking facilities). Again it would be best to use the HSE template and fill this out and supply to the venue or employer.
It is important to note that you are like any other contractor/sub-contractor, and the proper approach is that each contractor/sub-contractor provides their Risk Assessment, but that the principal contractor/employer is supposed to ensure these are co-ordinated with their own overall risk-assessment.
It is open to you to request to see their overall Risk Assessment of where you will be accessing and working, or to be provided with specific details of, for instance, the electrical system they use and its testing, or the noise profile of the venue.
If you have problems with a venue, including the provision of information, and you do not want to immediately raise it with the venue, you can alert the MU Officer for your region, and they in turn might also call in one of the MU Roving Safety Reps. The matter can then be taken forward without necessarily involving your name if you would prefer to remain anonymous.
All employers must conduct a Risk Assessment. Employers with five or more employees have to record the significant findings of their Risk Assessment.
You can print and save the template so you can easily review and update the information as and when required. You may find our example Risk Assessments form a useful guide (hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies). Simply choose the example closest to your business.
Employers with five or more employees must have a written health and safety policy and Risk Assessment. It is important you discuss your assessment and proposed actions with staff or their representatives.
You should review your Risk Assessment if you think it might no longer be valid, for instance, following an accident in the workplace, or if there are any significant changes to the hazards in your workplace, such as new equipment or work activities.
For further information and to view our example Risk Assessments go to hse.gov.uk published by the Health and Safety Executive 11/11. N.B.
The blanks on the form are what you have to fill in with hazards you identify.
You can download the document from hse.gov.uk
Please see the following news story for changes to health and safety laws for the self-employed from August 2015.