labourers on a construction siteThe primary duty of care under the WHS Act is owed by a PCBU to a ‘Worker’.
The term ‘Worker’ specifically includes a labour hire worker who has been assigned by one PCBU to work for another.

If your business contracts labour hire workers (Host PCBU) or is an agency which provides services of labour hire workers (Labour Hire PCBU), the WHS Act sets out your specific health and safety obligations.

Both the Host PCBU and the Labour Hire PCBU have individual and shared duties aimed at better protecting the labour hire worker. The duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of labour hire workers engaged by, or whose activities are influenced or directed by the PCBU.

Where this is the case, all duty holders who have a duty in respect of the same matter must consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other so far as is reasonably practicable. (Refer Safe Work Australia – Code of Practice: Work Health and Safety: Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination.)

Host PCBU – Work health and safety duties

As a host PBCU, you have the same health and safety duties to labour hire workers as you do to directly engaged or employed workers. It is your duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all workers while at work. This duty requires you to eliminate or, if that is not reasonably practicable, to minimise risks to health and safety.

As a host PCBU you must also consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with the labour hire agency to ensure you meet your obligations. The WHS Act specifically provides that you cannot contract out of or transfer your work health safety obligations to another party

When engaging labour hire workers to carry out work, you should:

– Provide the labour hire PCBU with detailed information about the nature of work to be carried out including details of:

– – The work environment
– – Any plant or equipment to be used
– – Organisational and work health and safety arrangements
– – Health and safety risks associated with the work
– – Any skills and knowledge required to safely undertake the work required.

– Verify that the selected worker/s have any necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to carry out the work safely

– Consult with the labour hire PCBU on general health and safety information about the work, the workplace and work environment and ensure that general health and safety information about the work, workplace and work environment has been provided to the worker/s

– Maintain open communication and consultation methods with the labour hire PCBU and the labour hire worker in relation to health and safety matters. This should include establishing relevant points of contact for health and safety between the organisations as well as agreed means and frequency of communication.

– Provide labour hire workers with a site specific safety induction which would outline specific work health and safety duties they are to comply with, workplace policies and procedures, safe work practices, training requirements etc.

– Provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision of labour hire workers to ensure that work is being performed safely

Labour Hire PCBU – Work health and safety duties

As a labour hire PBCU, it is your duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers during their placement with a host PCBU. It is your duty to eliminate or, if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise risks to health and safety a labour hire worker may encounter. In some circumstances, this might mean not placing workers in a workplace while you believe there is a risk to their health and safety or where risks have not been adequately controlled.

Before you place labour hire workers, you should:

– Review information about the host PCBU’s safety record and the workplace including the work environment, organisational arrangements, health and safety risks associated with the work and any skills and knowledge the worker will require to safely undertake the work

– Assess the workplace for any risks to health and safety. Where risks are identified,

– consult with the host to ensure they are eliminated, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimised

– Verify that the host PCBU will provide site-specific and task-specific induction, training and PPE to labour hire workers

– Ensure that workers have the necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to safely carry out the work

– Ensure the host PCBU obtains your approval prior to transferring a labour hire worker to

– new task

– Consult with the host PCBU and workers to ensure you and the workers understand and are confident in your understanding of the work health and safety policies, procedures and practices of the host PCBU

– Establish communication methods so workers can use to contact you if they consider there is any risk to their health or safety or if the worker is unsatisfied with the host PCBU’s response to a safety concern.

– Ensure workers have the means to identify and take action in an unsafe situation at the host workplace, such as stopping work or bringing it to the attention of the host PCBU or a health and safety representative

– Provide workers with a general work health and safety induction and training covering any risks you have identified in the host workplace and consultation methods you have established with workers and the host PCBU

– Ensure that you have a documented system in place for the management of work health and safety including trained staff.

While your workers are placed with the host PCBU, you should continue to:

– Consult with the host PCBU and labour hire workers on any changes which may affect their health and safety.

– Monitor the workplace for new risks to health and safety and consult with the host PCBU about how they might be addressed. (e.g. regular visits to the host workplace)

– Take effective action when the worker or host PCBU identifies risks or raises concerns about health and safety

– Encourage workers to maintain contact with you and to provide feedback on health and safety matters in the host workplace.

Whether your business contracts labour hire workers (Host PCBU) or is an agency which provides services of labour hire workers (Labour Hire PCBU), you should ensure your workers are aware of their duties, and highlight the duties which are shared between the host PCBU and the labour hire PCBU, and those that are not.

All workers have the same right to expect a safe workplace.

You can obtain further information regarding your duties via your local Work Health and Safety Regulator or directly from Safe Work Australia. (www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au)

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