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Principles that apply to WHS Duties: New resources for PCBUs

From Safe Work Australia

Think you know the principles that apply to your work health and safety duties?

The model WHS Act sets out the principles that apply to all work health and safety duties under sections 13-17. PCBU’s should know about their primary duty to ensure the health and safety of their people, but beyond that, what principles apply more broadly to ensure WHS duties are met?

Four key principles apply to all WHS duties in the model Act.

Principle 1. WHS duties are not transferable

A duty holder cannot transfer their duties to another person. Any contractual term that seeks to transfer or reduce the duty holder’s responsibility will be invalid.

Duty holders who have a duty in relation to the same matter can enter into reasonable arrangements or agreements with each other to make sure everyone’s duties are met, while at the same time avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.

Principle 2. A person can have more than one duty

A person can have more than one duty at the same time. For example, a person can be both a worker and an officer or a worker and a PCBU (if working as an individual contractor).

Principle 3. More than one person can concurrently have the same duty

Multiple duty holders who have the same duty must each meet their duty to the standard required.

Where more than one person has a duty in relation to the same matter, the duty holders retain responsibility for their duty in relation to the matter and must discharge the duty to the extent to which the person has capacity to influence or control the matter. These duty holders must also consult coordinate and cooperate activities with each other.

Principle 4. Management of risks

A duty holder must manage risks to health and safety by eliminating risks so far as is reasonably practicable and if not reasonably practicable, to minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

Reasonably practicable means doing all that you reasonably can to keep people safe at work.

More information

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