Person conducting a business or undertaking

A ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU – the new term that includes employers) may be an individual person or an organisation conducting a business or undertaking.   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.

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.

Examples of PCBUs who are individuals include:

  • partners in partnerships
  • sole traders and self-employed people
  • individual trustees of trusts (as with some family businesses)
  • committee members of unincorporated associations if they employ someone.

Examples of PCBUs that are organisations include:

  • public companies
  • private companies
  • trustees that are companies
  • cooperatives that are companies
  • government departments and authorities
  • incorporated associations if they employ someone
  • local authorities (municipal corporations or councils)
  • independent schools
  • universities.

A health and safety duty is owed by a PCBU if it:

  • arranges, directs or influences work to be done
  • contributes something towards the work being done.

This duty also applies to:

  • principals, contractors and sub-contractors within the supply chain such as in the construction and transport industries
  • franchisors and the franchisees that use the franchisors’ business systems such as fast food outlets.

A PCBU is not the individual worker or officer and does not apply to purely social, domestic or recreational activities.