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The principal duty holder under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) is a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU). PCBUs include the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Authorities, non-Commonwealth licensees, principal contractors. In some cases, there may be multiple PCBUs who share responsibilities under the WHS laws.

Broadening the responsibility from employer to PCBU means that WHS Act coverage extends beyond the traditional employer / employee relationship to include new and evolving work arrangements and risks.

The WHS Act also places specific upstream duties on PCBUs who carry out specific activities:

  • persons with management or control of a workplace/fixtures, fittings and plant
  • designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and PCBUs that install construct or commission plant or structures.

Any PCBU who is contributing to work has a duty of care, and there can be more than one duty in relation to specific activities.

Note that a ‘Volunteer association’ (as defined in section 5(8) of the WHS Act) is not treated as a business or undertaking.

Page last updated: 08 Jun 2017