The WHS Act

places the primary duty of care and various other duties and obligations on a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU). The meaning of a PCBU is set out in section 5 of the WHS Act. This is a broad concept used to capture all types of modern working arrangements. A PCBU conducts a business or undertaking alone or with others. The business or undertaking can operate for profit or not-for-profit. The definition of a PCBU focuses on the work arrangements and the relationships to carry out the work. In addition to employers, a PCBU can be a corporation, an association, a partnership or sole trader. A volunteer organisation which employs any person to carry out work is considered a PCBU. Householders where there is an employment relationship between the householder and the worker are also considered a PCBU.

An officer

is a person who makes decisions, or participates in making decisions, that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of a business or undertaking and has the capacity to significantly affect the financial standing of the business or undertaking. If a person is responsible only for implementing those decisions, they are not considered an officer. Partners of a partnership are not officers but are PCBUs. An officer of a PCBU must exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with their duties under the WHS legislation.

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You are considered to be an officer if you are:

• an officer within the meaning of section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001
• an officer of the Crown within the meaning of section 247 of the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act
• an officer of a public authority within the meaning of section 252 of the model WHS Act.

For more information about PCBUs, officers and workers, visit www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au ‘New legislation 2012’ to read the model WHS Act, draft model WHS Regulations and draft priority codes of practice.