Managing people

PCBUS AND OFFICERS: WHO'S WHO IN YOUR WOrkplace?

Learn more about the responsibilities of persons conducting a business or undertaking and work health and safety laws. 

29 February 2024

Under work health and safety laws, the PCBU – ‘person conducting the business or undertaking’ – is the business entity conducting the activities of the business or undertaking.

But who exactly takes on the role of the person conducting the business or undertaking in a large office, or in a sole trader business? And what are a PCBU’s responsibilities?

Who is the Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking (PCBU)?

It can be a company or organisation, an association, the partners (collectively) in a partnership, a government department or authority, an independent school or university, or a sole trader. The PCBU is not an individual employed by a business entity.

The PCBU is only an individual person in the case of a sole trader or self-employed person.

CEOs, CFOs, directors, board members, general managers and possibly section managers could all be ‘officers’ under work health and safety legislation. An officer is anyone who makes decisions or participates in making decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part of the business or undertaking.

Officers of a PCBU must exercise due diligence to ensure the PCBU complies with its duties under WHS legislation.

As the officer who is ultimately responsible for decisions about how business activities are conducted, the CEO’s duties are most closely identified with the duties of the PCBU. This is the case regardless of the physical location of the CEO (e.g. on which floor or in which building that person works).

To the extent that responsibility for decision-making is shared with board members, directors, general managers and the CFO, these individuals also share responsibility for ensuring that the PCBU complies with its duties under the law.

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