Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Self-employed workers: health and safety at work


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 2003/134/EC of 18 February 2003 concerning the improvement of the protection of the health and safety at work of self-employed workers.


This recommendation concerns workers who exercise their occupational activity in a manner which does not involve an employment relationship with an employer or, more generally, does not make them subordinate to a third person.

Although self-employed workers are not covered by the Directives on health and safety at work, notably Directive 89/391/EEC, they are very often subject to health and safety risks similar to those experienced by employees.
Moreover, there are a large number of self-employed workers in certain “high-risk” sectors such as agriculture, fishing, construction, and transport.

For this reason the Council recommends that Member States promote prevention policies as well as health and safety at work measures, notably via awareness-raising campaigns, as well as access to training and health surveillance.
More specifically, Member States are recommended:

  • to promote, in the context of their policies on preventing occupational accidents and diseases, the safety and health of self-employed workers, while taking account of the special risks existing in specific sectors and the specific nature of the relationship between contracting undertakings and self-employed workers;
  • when promoting health and safety for self-employed workers, to choose the measures they consider most appropriate, such as one or more of the following: legislation, incentives, information campaigns and encouragement of relevant stakeholders;
  • to implement awareness-raising campaigns, so that self-employed workers can obtain from the competent services and/or bodies, as well as from their own representative organisations, useful information and advice on the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases;
  • to take the measures necessary so that self-employed workers can have access to sufficient training to acquire appropriate safety and health skills;
  • to facilitate easy access to this information and training without involving excessive expense for self-employed workers;
  • to allow self-employed workers who so wish to have access to health surveillance appropriate to the risks to which they are exposed;
  • to take account of available information on experience in other Member States;
  • to examine, between now and 2007, the effectiveness of existing national measures or measures taken subsequent to the adoption of this recommendation and to duly inform the Commission.

This recommendation does not affect existing or future national provisions providing for a higher degree of protection and Member States should choose the means they consider to be most appropriate to meet its objectives.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Recommendation 2003/134/EC 18.02.03 OJ L 53 of 28.02.2003


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