WHS Act (WA) 2020
Earlier this year, the WA Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) was introduced to help better protect WA workers by imposing broader responsibilities on organisations with tougher penalties.
Throughout the act, the terms PCBU and worker are used repeatedly to describe all types of working relationships.
In this article, we are going to discuss the definitions of these terms, as well as the responsibilities that they have under the WHS Act.
What is a PCBU?
Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is the term that is used throughout the WHS act to describe a person that is conducting a business or undertaking, alone or with others, whether or not for profit or for gain.
Examples of a PCBU include:
- A sole trader (or self-employed person)
- Each partner within a partnership
- A company or unincorporated association
- A government department
Examples that are not considered a PCBU are:
- An elected member of a municipal council acting in that capacity
- A volunteer association that does not employ anyone
- A strata body corporate that does not employ anyone
Under the WHS Act, a PCBU has a primary responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their workers, whilst they are at work.
What is a Worker?
The WHS Act defines a worker as someone who carries out work, in any capacity, for a PCBU. Workers are the people that the WHS seeks to better protect. This includes:
- Contractors and Subcontractors;
- Employees of Contractors and Subcontractors;
- Employees of Labour Hire Companies;
- Apprentices and Trainees;
- Students Gaining Work Experience; and,
A PCBU has a primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of workers, so far as it is reasonably practical, by eliminating health and safety risks. If eliminating risks is not reasonably practical, then risks must be minimised as much as is reasonably practicable.
The WHS Act states that a PCBU has a responsibility to ensure:
- A working environment that is safe and without risks;
- Safe access to and exit from the workplace;
- The provision and maintenance of plant, structure and equipment that is safe and does not pose a risk to workers’ health;
- The safe use of handling, storing and transporting materials
- The provision of adequate facilities for the welfare of workers (eg. washrooms, dining areas);
- The provision of information, instruction, training and supervision to workers needed for them to work without risk to their own, and others, health and safety; and,
- Effective monitoring of the workplace conditions and workers’ health to prevent injury or illness.
The WHS Act states that workers have a responsibility to:
- Take reasonable steps to ensure their own health and safety in the workplace;
- Take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of others in the workplace;
- Comply with reasonable instruction given by the PCBU for the purposes of the PCBU being compliant with the WHS Act; and,
- Cooperate with and follow any reasonable workplace health and safety policy or procedure that has been put in place by the PCBU.
PCBUs in Western Australia should ensure that they are compliant with the new WHS Act by taking the following four steps:
- Understanding the new legislation and its effects;
- Reviewing and updating systems, policies, and processes;
- Recording evidence of daily compliance with WHS obligations; and,
- Implementing audits to ensure ongoing compliance with the WHS Act.
WHS Compliance Management
QSM group specialise in workplace health and safety compliance management. For many years we have supported West Australian businesses with their workplace health and safety management systems and compliance management.
We offer a complimentary workplace health and safety inspection, where one of our consultants will come out to your workplace and provide you with a summary of the findings report. If this is something you are interested in, please use our contact form to make your request.