Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking – if you are running a business, then this affects you...

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A key aspect of the HSAW is the creation of a new duty holder, known as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU). A PCBU means a person conducting a business or undertaking:


PCBU is a broad concept that reflects modern working arrangements.

The past Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 primarily focused on the employer and employee roles. It placed duties on carefully defined participants – employers, principals, the self-employed, persons controlling a place of work, and suppliers of plant.

The PCBU concept replaces all of these duty holders. It better reflects the complex nature of the modern workplace where there can be multiple working arrangements for workers in the same location or for the same organisation. The PCBU concept recognises that a business or undertaking has an influence over the health and safety of workers, even where those workers may not be its direct employees

All PCBUs have a primary duty of care in relation to the health and safety of workers and others affected by the work carried out by the PCBU.


Everyone is responsible

HSWA ensures that everyone has a role to play and makes everyone's responsibilities clear:

Businesses have the primary responsibility for the health and safety of their workers and any other workers they influence or direct. They are also responsible for the health and safety of people at risk from the work of their business.

Officers (company directors, partners, board members, chief executives) must do due diligence to make sure the business understands and is meeting its health and safety responsibilities.

Workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their actions don't adversely affect the health and safety of others. They must also follow any reasonable health and safety instruction given to them by the business and cooperate with any reasonable business policy or procedure relating to health and safety in the workplace.

Other people who come into the workplace, such as visitors or customers, also have some health and safety duties to ensure that their actions don’t adversely affect the health and safety of others.



The primary duty of care requires all PCBUs to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  1. the health and safety of workers employed or engaged or caused to be employed or engaged, by the PCBU or those workers who are influenced or directed by the PCBU (for example workers and contractors)

  2. that the health and safety of other people is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking (for example visitors and customers).

The PCBU's specific obligations, so far as is reasonably practicable:

A self-employed person is a PCBU. In addition to the primary duty of care, they must also ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, his or her own health and safety while at work.

PCBUs may also have other specific and ongoing duties, depending on what they manage or provide.

Worker – basically concerns everyone...

A "worker" is defined as a person who carries out work in any capacity for a PCBU, including work as an employee, a contractor or subcontractor, an employee of a contractor or subcontractor or an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work for the PCBU, an outworker, an apprentice or trainee, a person gaining work experience or undertaking a work trial, a volunteer or a person of a prescribed class.

Coverage is broad

The definition is broad, and like the PCBU definition is designed to encompass a number of relationships that are typical in a work environment (such as employees, contractors, subcontractors, employees of contractors or subcontractors, volunteers and trainees).

HSWA applies to nearly all work in New Zealand, however there are a few exceptions:

Reasonably Practicable – if it could happen then it needs to identified and a process instigated to eliminate or minimise it...

The HSWA replaces the current standard under the HSE Act ("All Practicable Steps") with a new "reasonably practicable" standard.

"Reasonably practicable" is defined as: "...that which is, or was, at a particular time, reasonably able to be done in relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters, including:


The new standard is broadly similar to the existing concept of "All Practicable Steps", except that the assessment of costs must only be taken after the assessment of the risk and the ways to eliminate that risk. This means that costs will only take precedence over safety when the cost of taking a step is "grossly disproportionate" to the risk.