Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) responsibilities

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When do the new WHS laws come into effect?

WA’s Work Health and Safety legislation is not expected to come into force until January 2022. This means that the current occupational, mines safety and petroleum safety legislation still applies.

Overviews of the new WHS Act and general regulations

Overview documents provide Information on the new WHS laws coming into effect in 2022. Guidance for mines and petroleum regulations will be released at a later date.

Overview of the Act Overview of the general regulations

This information is designed to help WA organisations and their associated workforces (including volunteers) prepare for the new Work Health and Safety laws. More information will be added as it becomes available.

What is a PCBU?

Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) is the term given to a person conducting a business or undertaking alone or with others, whether or not for profit or gain. A PCBU can be:

  • a sole trader (for example, a self-employed person)
  • each partner within a partnership
  • a company
  • an unincorporated association 
  • a government department of public authority (including a municipal council). 

You are not considered a PCBU if you are:

  • an elected member of a municipal council acting in that capacity 
  • a 'volunteer association' that does not employ anyone. If the volunteer association becomes an employer it also becomes a PCBU for purposes of the WHS Act
  • a 'strata title body corporate' that does not employ anyone, in relation to any common areas used only for residential purposes. 

What are the PCBU's duties under the WHS Act? 

Under the WHS Act, all PCBUs have a primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their workers while they are at work. In this context, 'workers' are those engaged, or caused to be engaged by the person and those whose activities in carrying out the work are influenced or directed by the person.

This primary duty of care requires PCBUs to ensure health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable, by eliminating risks to health and safety. If this is not reasonably practicable, risks must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. 

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

  • the provision and maintenance of a working environment that is safe and without risks to health, including safe access to and exit from the workplace
  • the provision and maintenance of plant, structure and systems of work that are safe and do not pose health risks (for example, providing effective guards on machines and regulating the pace and frequency of work)
  • the safe use, handling, storage and transport of plant, structure and substances (for example, toxic chemicals, dusts and fibres)
  • the provision of adequate facilities for the welfare of workers at work (for example, access to washrooms, lockers and dining areas)
  • 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 arising out of the conduct of the business or undertaking
  • the maintenance of any accommodation owned or under their management and control to ensure the health and safety of workers occupying the premises. 

Further duties 

The WHS Act imposes further duties on certain PCBUs who are in control of workplaces or are 'upstream' duty holders such as designers, manufacturers and importers of plants and substances. 

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