PCBU and the Duty to Consult

A PCBU has a number of duties, including but not limited to the duty to consult, the duty to co-operate and the duty to co-ordinate.  We break those duties down and discuss them briefly over the next three articles.

All PCBU’s are required to ensure, no matter the size or industry type, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers employed, engaged, influenced, or directed by the PCBU. In addition they must ensure the safety of any other person who may be put at risk by work done by the PCBUs. This means when PCBU’s are working with other PCBU’s the risk of a health and safety issues arising increases. More people, more risk, more likely the harm.

Because of this as well as worker consultation, there must also be consultation between PCBU’s when there are overlapping duties for the same worker, work or workplaces.  Thus, as far as is reasonably practicable, PCBU’s must Consult, Co-operate and Co-ordinate activities that impact on each other so as to reach combined responsibilities.

Whilst the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) does not give specific guidance on how this must occur, there is resource on the WorkSafe NZ website and you can call and discuss at any time. WorkSafe NZ – Guidance Overlapping Duties

HSWA encourages and promotes information sharing and workplace collaboration between PCBUs who have overlapping duties (for example, a group of contracting companies operating in a construction site or a company which engages a contractor to say, fix a lighting issue).
The duty to consult requires the PCBUs to get together and identify any underlying issues, identify risks and methods of controlling these risks.  Consultation would also require discussions around:

  • what work activities are being carried out and by whom;
  • the degree of influence and control each PCBU has over the workplace;
  • the use of shared facilities and how will the activities of each PCBU affect the workplace;
  • who will manage what and how (this includes putting in place systems, procedures and protocols for risk control); and
  • monitoring compliance with systems put in place.

This requires PCBUs to share information and work together to put in place systems for managing and controlling risk in accordance with any agreements reached during the consultation process.

PCBUs are required to work together to meet their obligations and duties effectively to control risks.  PCBUs can therefore co-ordinate on what systems or protocols will be implemented and how will they be implemented to control risks.  PCBUs can also co-ordinate about monitoring compliance with systems that have been implemented.  This is not about one PCBU pushing all the duties onto another (remember no one can contract out of duties under HSWA but it is fine and encouraged) for PCBU’s to work together to avoid duplication, or worse, conflicts over health and safety processes or rules.

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