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Do you know who your PCBU is? | Medilife Blog

When the new work health and safety regulations were introduced, a new term entered our safety vocabulary – PCBU.

It describes an important role in managing safety and has some specific and serious responsibilities. It’s important to know what that role is and who is responsible for filling it where you work. Let’s take a closer look.

What is a PCBU?

PCBU stands for Person conducting a business or Undertaking. However rather than referring to one specific person, PCBU is a “catch all” term for those having the responsibility of controlling a workplace.

This will change depending on where you work and what your circumstances are, but your PCBU will be either:

  • A person or a partnership of people who own the business
  • The legal company that you work for, represented by its directors or managers (Officers).
  • The association or charity you work for, if you are paid to do it.
  • Any organisation or individual that has control over the decision making process or that plays a part in making decisions.

Where it can get complicated is situations where there is more than one PCBU. The most common situation is when a subcontractor is brought into a workplace to perform work.

Let’s look at an example. A construction company brings in a subcontractor to install industrial equipment into a building.

Who do you think are PCBUs in this situation? Read more to find out if you’re right!Depending on the circumstances at least the following could be PCBUs:

  • The construction company – they have overall control of the workplace and who works there. They are definitely a PCBU.
  • The subcontractor may be a PCBU. If they are employing workers to complete the job, they have a responsibility to ensure they are safe and comply with the construction company’s systems. If they are not employing anyone and have no say in how the work is performed, they may not be a PCBU
  • The equipment manufacturer may be a PCBU. They have a responsibility to ensure the equipment they supply is safe and up to the job and they provide suitable instructions for its safe installation and use. The level of their responsibility will vary based on how much control they can reasonably have over the products they supply.

Where does this leave the ordinary worker?

This multiple PCBU situation can be a challenge for someone who just wants to get their work done. But it’s important to be clear who is responsible for your safety.

Your safety systems should have a clear line of responsibility included, that includes not just normal work routines, but also what to do when a worker from another business comes to your workplace. You need to have clearly shown:

  • What safety expectations you have of them
  • How they can get help if they need it.
  • Who is responsible for managing safety at all times

The same would be true if you regularly work at someone else’s workplace. Before you begin work you need to always need to know who is responsible for the different aspects of safety on-site. At a minimum you need a basic orientation to the workplace and ideally you need a clear and simple induction into the systems that are in place.