PCBU and the Duty to Co-ordinate

As was discussed last time the PCBU has a number of duties when operating under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.  Including, but not limited to, the duty to Consult, the duty to Co-operate and the duty to Co-ordinate.

Consult, Co-operate and Co-ordinate

It is important that PCBUs consult, co-operate and co-ordinate all their operations to ensure the overall health and safety of all who may come into contact with that particular worksite.  As with many sites there can often be a number of differing PCBU’s on any one site at one time. Needless to say this means there is often disputes or differences of opinion. Therefore it goes without saying that PCBUs have a duty to make reasonable efforts to achieve a timely, final and effective resolution of workplace health and safety issues.

If a health and safety issue has not been resolved after reasonable efforts have been made, the parties may request to have an Inspector appointed to assist them in resolving the issues.

Non-compliance with the requirements

PCBUs who fail to discharge their duties to Consult, Co-operate and Co-ordinate could face fines ($20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for other legal persons such as companies, partnerships and trusts).

Duty-To-CoordinateBe proactive

Review your current polices and systems to work out what gaps need to be filled in light of the law change.  Figure out if you have overlapping duties with other PCBUs in respect of work being done, the workplace or the workers (it is very likely that you do!).

Be proactive in initiating and facilitating the Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination process with other PCBUs who have overlapping duties with you in relation to the work, workers and workplace.  You may need to develop protocols and define parameters for each of these so that everyone is clear on what is required, how and when.  This doesn’t have to be a complicated exercise.

Depending on the scope of the work being done, it may be a simple conversation between a business and a one-off contractor (for example, a business engaging a contractor to install a piece of equipment).  The parties should discuss the work that will be done, the risks involved (both at the workplace, and any risks created by the work) and how those risks will be managed.  You might want to take a note of the discussion or commit to writing any particularly important points to come out of the discussion.  For an ongoing relationship, or multiple PCBU’s, or a very risky type of work, it may involve something more formal – job safety analysis seeks health and safety plans, and a written agreement between PCBU’s as to how tasks will be apportioned.

Seeking advice early on can help you develop efficient strategies to discharge your duties under the HSWA.

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