Understanding workplace health and safety responsibilities is vital.

Many businesses in Australia have fallen foul of the WHS legislation in Australia.

Who is ultimately responsible for the compliance of a business?

What responsibilities do board members, directors, CEOs, company secretary and partners or business owners have ?

In Tasmania, the Work, Health and Safety (WHS) laws state that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty under the WHS act to provide a safe worksite.

This applies not only to workers but those who could be affected by the work activity – such as the public.

A PCBU can be individual or an entity.  In the case where it is a large entity the individuals who have responsibility for WHS are called officers. In smaller businesses it will be the owner who is identified as the officer.

These are defined in larger organisations as individuals who have the following identifiers:

  • Those who participate in making decisions affecting the whole or a substantial part of the organization;
  • Those with capacity to significantly affect the organisation’s financial standing;
  • Those on whose instructions or wishes directors are accustomed to act.

If you have any of the above identifiers, you are considered to be an officer and have a duty under the WHS Act.

What does this mean for you?

You are required by the act to ensure that the PCBU (Business) complies with the act.

This includes:

  • Keeping up to date with WHS information;
  • Ensuring there are resources and processes available to address WHS issues;
  • Understand the operation of the business;
  • and, ensuring there is a system for the business to meet its duties under the WHS legislation.

If you are a self-employed person, in a partnership, a board member, or working for a large business in a high level management role, you are likely to have the position of an officer under the WHS act.

This would mean you have the responsibility to ensure that you have a safe workplace and a safe system of work.

By TCCI Work Health and Safety Specialist South Craig Hortle

For more information on WHS, please contact Craig Hortle or Janelle Whitehouse at the TCCI on 1300 559 122 or email