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Duties

Person conducting a business or undertaking

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:

  • provision and maintenance of a work environment without risks to health and safety
  • provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures
  • provision and maintenance of safe systems of work
  • the safe use, handling, storage and transport of plant, structures and substances
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

Officers

Officers have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure 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, 833 KB) (the WHS Act). 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

Workers are classified as any person who carries out work, in any capacity, for a PCBU.

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 PCBU.

Duty holders

Duty holders are PCBUs 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.

Further information

Australian and other standards (Safe Work Australia) - Information sheets providing general guidance for duty holders on Australian and other Standards and how they interact with the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and WHS Regulations.

Last updated
19 July 2017

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