Duties of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)
The work health and safety (WHS) laws require a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers while at work in the business or undertaking. This includes:
- the provision and maintenance of a work environment without risks to health and safety
- the provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures
- the provision and maintenance of safe systems of work
- the safe use, handling, storage and transport of plant, structures and substances
- the provision of adequate facilities for the welfare at work of workers in carrying out work for the business or undertaking, including ensuring access to those facilities
- the provision of any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking
- that the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace are monitored for the purpose of preventing illness or injury of workers arising from the conduct of the business or undertaking.
If a worker occupies accommodation owned by or under the management and control of the PCBU because other accommodation is not reasonably available, the PCBU must, so far as is reasonably practicable, maintain the premises so that the worker occupying the premises is not exposed to risks to health and safety.
Other duty holders are persons conducting a business or undertaking who are:
- persons with management or control of a workplace
- persons with management or control of fixtures, fittings or plant at a workplace
- designers of plant, substances or structures
- manufacturers of plant, substances or structures
- importers of plant, substances or structures
- suppliers of plant, substances or structures
- persons who install, construct or commission plant or structures.
An officer has a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that their organisation complies with the WHS laws. An officer can be found guilty of an offence regardless of whether the organisation has been found guilty.
In particular, the WHS laws impose a specific duty on officers of corporations and unincorporated bodies such as clubs and associations to exercise due diligence to ensure that the corporation, club or association meets its work health and safety obligations. This requires officers to be proactive in ensuring that the corporation, club or association complies with its duties.
A volunteer officer cannot be prosecuted for failing to comply with their officer duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) (WHS Act). This immunity from prosecution is designed to ensure that voluntary participation at the officer level is not discouraged. A volunteer officer can however, be prosecuted in their capacity as a worker if they fail to meet their duties as a worker under the WHS Act.
‘Workers’ includes any person who carries out work, in any capacity, for a person conducting a business or undertaking. Workers must:
- take reasonable care for their own health and safety
- take reasonable care that their conduct does not adversely affect the health and safety of others
- comply, so far as they are reasonably able with instructions
- cooperate with reasonable health and safety policies or procedures that have been notified to workers.
Other persons at the workplace
A person at a workplace, whether or not the person has another duty under this part must:
- take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety
- take reasonable care the his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons
- comply, so far as the person is reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the person conducting the business or undertaking.