PCBU Duties

The model WHS Act and model WHS Regulations establish a framework to support this primary duty. This includes:

  • Specific duties to manage psychosocial risks
  • Consulting workers and any HSRs
  • Consulting other duty holders. 

Specific duties to manage psychosocial risks

To manage psychosocial risks, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), such as employers, must:  

  • identify reasonably foreseeable hazards
  • eliminate psychosocial risks if it is reasonably practicable to do so, or if it isn’t reasonably practicable to eliminate these risks, minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable
  • maintain control measures to ensure they remain effective 
  • review control measures when required.

These requirements are set out in Part 3.1 and Part 3.2, Division 11, of the model WHS Regulations.

In determining what control measures to use, the PCBU must have regard to all relevant matters (see regulation 55D(2)). This includes:

  • the duration, frequency and severity of exposure to hazards
  • how psychosocial hazards may interact or combine
  • the design of work and systems of work
  • the design, layout and environmental conditions of the workplace including providing safe means of entry and exit, and facilities for the welfare of workers
  • plant, substances and structures at the workplace
  • workplace interactions or behaviours, and
  • information, training, instruction and supervision provided to workers.  

This can be done using the risk management process

Consulting workers 

You must consult your workers, and any HSRs, if they are likely to be affected by a WHS matter. For example, when you identify a psychosocial hazard and are deciding what control measures to use. 

This means:

  • sharing relevant information with workers 
  • giving workers a reasonable opportunity to express their views, raise WHS issues and contribute to the decision-making process
  • taking those views into account before making decisions on WHS matters, and
  • advising workers of the outcome of consultations in a timely manner.

See Duties of a PCBU for more information on consultation. 

Consulting other duty holders

If you share a WHS duty you must consult, cooperate and coordinate with others who share the duty. For example, if you share a workplace with other businesses, you must work together to make sure the workplace is safe. 

See Duties of a PCBU for more information on consultation. 

Reasonably practicable 

The model WHS laws recognise there are times when eliminating a risk or controlling risks in a particular way just isn’t possible. To reflect this many of the duties in the model WHS laws require you to do what is reasonably practicable

Reasonably practicable means what is reasonably able to be done taking into account all the relevant matters including:

  • the likelihood and possible consequences from the hazard (risk)
  • what you should know about the hazard, risk and ways of controlling the risk, and 
  • the controls available. 

Cost is also relevant but only after you have considered other relevant factors.

If a control isn’t reasonably practicable, you need to find other ways to control the risk. 

For more information see the model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work