Health and Safety Chat

What is a PCBU?

Susan Rhodes

12 September 2016

PCBU stands for a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’, a term that can be misleading.

On 4 April 2016 the biggest changes to health and safety legislation since the 1990’s came in to effect. These changes saw a change from managing the hazards in a business, to a more holistic approach of managing risk, and also sees the introduction of new definitions regarding those responsible for managing the risks.

The Act advises that the PCBU has the Primary duty of care of health and safety in the workplace. The questions that we are most often asked when we meet new clients are:

  • What is a PCBU?
  • Am I a PCBU?

PCBU is a broad concept that covers a wide range of people in the workplace. PCBU stands for a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’, a term that can be misleading. While a PCBU may be an individual person in the case of a sole trader, in most cases the PCBU will be an organisation (for example, a business entity such as a company).

“PCBU stands for a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’, a term that can be misleading.”

Worksafe NZ gives examples of PCBUs on its website as follows:

  • A business in the form of an incorporated company.
  • A sole trader or self-employed person.
  • A general partner in a partnership (if the partnership is a limited partnership).
  • A partner in a partnership (if the partnership is not a limited partnership).
  • An organisation created by legislation (eg government department, university, school or local authority).

The following are not PCBUs:

  • Volunteer associations
  • Home occupiers who employ or engage someone to do work around the home
  • Persons to the extent they are solely a worker or an officer in the business or undertaking
  • Statutory officers to the extent they are officers or workers in the business or undertaking
  • Other persons declared by regulations not to be PCBUs for the purposes of HSWA or any provision of the Act.

This means that in most cases, the PCBU is the company and has the responsibility to set and monitor all policies and procedures with in a workplace. This also then follows that an Officer is the person that has the responsibility for implementing the health and safety policies and procedures in the workplace, and includes considerations like the setting of health and safety budgets, provision of resources, management of sites, etc..

So what does this mean for you?  First of all, answer:

  1. Am I a sole trader?
  2. Do I control a worksite, make decisions about health and safety, or have control of making funds available for health and safety?

If the answer is yes, and you are not the owner or partner of a limited liability business, then you could be classified as the PCBU and you have responsibilities under the Health and Safety Work Act 2015, such as to ensure by all practicable means possible the safety of all people including staff, contractors and visitors.

So now ask yourself:

  1. Do you understand what you and/or your workers do and how to do it safely?
  2. Does your business have instructions, SOP’s, SWP’s, RA’s and training records for all tasks undertaken by you and its staff?
  3. When your business communicates safety matters to your staff, does it use a formal Health and Safety Committee, toolbox talks, staff meetings, etc.?
  4. Do your staff understand their personal responsibilities for health and safety?
  5. Is your business identifying and controlling its hazards and checking that procedures are being followed?
  6. Does your business control its contractors, visitors and public access on your sites?
  7. Does your business record and investigate incidents and near misses, and does your business have a system to record these?

If you have answered no to any of these then you may need help with your health and safety management. This is where Smart Safety Solutions can help you. We are a dedicated safety consulting business that specialises in designing and implementing customised, simple health and safety management systems for businesses. We offer a range of products and services, from creating health and safety management systems, to ongoing monitoring and compliance, to ACC audit preparation, and everything in between.

We are a family owned business and pride ourselves on our ability to take all of the jargon out of health and safety, and explain it in terms that everyone can understand.

Our team would be love to sit down and talk through your current health and safety system if you are at all concerned about the up and coming changes.

Ready to discuss your Health & Safety requirements?

Contact us today for a free 1 hour consultation, or feel free to contact either Steve Schroder 021 452 930 or Susan 021 570 570.

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