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Duties of a PCBU

Work, Health and Safety laws require a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to ensure workers and others are not exposed to a risk to their health and safety so far as reasonably practicable.

On a construction site, the PCBU will include the builder/ principal contractor, any sub-contractors including sub-contractors engaged by the sub-contractors (including self-employed contractors), along with the client engaging the principal contractor/ builder. 

When is there a Duty of Care?

A PCBU will have a health and safety duty if they: 

  • direct or influence work carried out by a worker. 
  • engage or cause to engage a worker to carry out work (including through subcontracting). 
  • may put other people at risk from the conduct of their business or undertaking.
  • manage or control  a workplace.   
  • manage or control fixtures, fittings or plant at the workplace.
  • design, manufacture, import or supply plant, substances or structures for use at a workplace.
  • install, construct or commission plant or structures at a workplace.
  • provide services relating to work health and safety.

What are the duties of a PCBU?

Under the primary duty of care a PCBU must ensure so far as reasonably practicable:

  • the provision and maintenance of a work environment that is safe including safe access to and exit from the workplace,
  • the provision and maintenance of plant, structures and systems of work and that are safe and do not pose health risks,
  • the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances,
  • the provision of adequate facilities for the welfare at work of workers at work,
  • the provision of information, instruction, training or supervision to workers needed for them to work without risks to their health and safety and that of others around them,
  • that the health of workers and the conditions of the workplace are monitored to prevent injury or illness, 
  • the maintenance of any accommodation owned or under their management and control to ensure the health and safety of workers occupying the premises. 

Additional duties apply for:

  • a PCBU that designs, manufactures, imports or supplies plant, substances or structures for use at a workplace,
  • a PCBU that installs, constructs or commissions plant or structures at a workplace,
  • a PCBU that provides services relating to work health and safety,
  • notification and recording of workplace incidents,
  • compliance with the requirements of the work health and safety regulations.

A PCBU also has duties in relation to:

  • consultation with:
  • workers who are or are likely to be directly affected by matters relating to WHS, 
  • health and safety representatives, and 
  • health and safety committees.
  • consultation, cooperation and coordination with other duty holders who have a duty in relation to the same WHS matter,
  • health and safety committees and elected health and safety representatives, and 
  • resolution of health and safety issues.

What if there is more than one PCBU on a site?

There may be more than one PCBU with the same duty on site at the same time. 

When PCBU’s share duties or have ‘overlapping duties’:

  • Each PCBU must comply with their duty, so far as reasonably practicable.
  • Each PCBU must discharge their duty to the extent they have management or control.

Example of PCBUs sharing duties include:

  • Principal contractor and sub-contractor.
  • Labour provider and person with management of workplace.
  • A contractor with employees working in another's workplace.

Read more on PCBU responsibilities.

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

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