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Duties of Officers and the PCBU

Under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, an officer must exercise ‘due diligence’ to ensure that a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is compliant with their duties. Although the WHS Act hasn’t been adopted in Victoria and Western Australia, the principles are the same for those States.
An officer is a senior executive who is involved in decisions that affect the business or undertaking. This includes all people listed as Directors in your company documents. An officer can be held personally liable and be prosecuted for a failure to comply with their due diligence obligations.
According to the WHS act, officers must:

  • Acquire & keep up to date knowledge of WHS.
  • Understand the nature of their business operations, hazards & risks.
  • Use appropriate resources to eliminate or minimize risk.
  • Have appropriate processes for receiving & considering information & respond in a timely manner.
  • Implement processes for compliance.
  • Verify that risks & hazards are being appropriately controlled.

The duties of a PCBU are to:

  • Provide and maintain a safe work environment.
  • Provide and maintain safe plant and structures.
  • Provide and maintain safe systems of work.
  • Ensure the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances.
  • Provide adequate facilities (and ensure access is maintained).
  • Provide instruction, training, information and supervision.
  • Monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace.

It is important that you are aware of these important obligations. An officer can be held personally liable and be prosecuted for a failure to exercise due diligence.