PCBU Duties

Duties of a person conducting a business or undertaking

The principles that apply to all duties in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 are:

  1. a duty is not transferable
  2. a person may have more than one duty
  3. more than one person can have the same duty
  4. risks are managed to ensure they are eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Primary duty of care

The person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU – the new term that includes employers) has a primary duty of care to ensure workers and others are not exposed to a risk to their health and safety.

A primary duty of care is owed by a PCBU when it:

  • directs or influences work carried out by a worker
  • engages or causes to engage a worker to carry out work (including through subcontracting)
  • has management or control of a workplace.

The PCBU must meet its obligations, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide a safe and healthy workplace for workers or other persons by ensuring:

  • safe systems of work
  • a safe work environment
  • accommodation for workers, if provided, is appropriate
  • safe use of plant, structures and substances
  • facilities for the welfare of workers are adequate
  • notification and recording of workplace incidents
  • adequate information, training, instruction and supervision is given
  • compliance with the requirements under the work health and safety regulation
  • effective systems are in place for monitoring the health of workers and workplace conditions.

PCBUs must also have meaningful and open consultation about work health and safety with its workers, health and safety representatives and health and safety committees.

PCBU must consult, cooperate and coordinate with other PCBUs with whom they share duties.

Further obligations of a PCBU

A PCBU has further obligations if involved in specific kinds of activities such as:

  • the management and control of workplaces, or fixtures, fittings or plant at workplaces
  • the design, manufacture, import or supply of plant, substances or structures
  • installation, construction or commissioning of plant or structures.