It is important to understand the responsibilities of each and every person within your organisation. From a WHS perspective, knowing who’s who, and what they are responsible for, will not only help the company operate safely and efficiently, but in many cases is also a legal requirement.
Maintaining a strong and well-documented hierarchy means that when incidents do occur everybody knows exactly what their role is in its handling and reporting. Within a given company a person may have more than one workplace safety based responsibility; there may also be multiple people tasked with carrying out a particular responsibility. This can cause potential confusion if clear structures and hierarchies are not created and made accessible to all employees. This blog will describe some of the key roles and their responsibilities as described by Australian WHS Legislation.
What does PCBU mean and what do they do
PCBU stands for “person conducting a business or undertaking” and is a term defined by workplace safety laws to refer to the business or organisation itself. The term “person” may seem confusing as in most instances the PCBU will be some form of corporate entity. Depending on the type of workplace the PCBU could be many different things; it could be a company or organisation, a government department or local authority, or it could refer to the collective partners involved in a partnership. In some cases, the PCBU will also be a single person, for example in the case of sole traders or people who are self-employed.
The PCBU is a collective term for all the moving parts of the business. It is not, except in the case of sole-traders, any of the people working within the business. General employees, officers, elected officials, contractors, and volunteers are all types of “workers” within the PCBU.
What is an officer and what do they do
Officers, as defined by the Australian workplace safety legislation, is anybody that makes or participates in making decisions about the business in a significant way. Officers could include upper management (CEO, COO, Vice-Presidents etc.), directors and board members, department heads, or even general managers. An officer is defined not by their job title but by the responsibilities and decision-making powers they have.
It is the role and responsibility of the officer to ensure the PCBU is compliant with workplace safety legislation. Different officers will have different levels of control and responsibilities depending on their position in the PCBU’s hierarchy. There is no upper limit on the number of officers a PCBU may have. At a minimum, there will be one in the case of a sole trader, but in a large company, there could be tens or hundreds of officers at various levels.
Who is responsible for workplace safety?
The PCBU itself is ultimately responsible for the safety of the workplace. In a practical sense, however, the officers at varying levels are the people responsible for ensuring the PCBU and the decisions made in its operations are legally compliant. The level of responsibility will vary depending on the hierarchal structure of the PCBU, the type of decision being made (e.g. day-to-day vs. high level operational decisions), and the number of officers involved. The CEO will possibly share some degree of responsibility for all the decisions made, whereas a general manager will likely only be responsible for the decisions they make directly.
Conserve offers a sophisticated software solution for the collection and management of contractors and their documentation, specifically relating but not limited to health and safety requirements. Our systems can help ease the administrative burden of keeping track of all the legally mandated documentation. Working as either an independent solution or in parallel with your current in-house systems, our software will help you (as a PCBU or Officer) manage all safety related documentation required when engaging a contractor, ensuring the appropriate due diligence has been applied.
Contact Conserve today to learn more.