The officers of a “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking” (PCBU) have a different set of health and safety requirements to the PCBU itself under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

The duties of an officer arise because they have the ability to make decisions which influence the health and safety of workers and other persons affected by the PCBU. However, this does not mean that any person who influences health and safety is an officer.

An officer of a PCBU is any person with a position to influence or control the management of the organisation. This might be a chief executive, partner, owner, or any other person with a senior leadership position.

Under the Act, every officer has a duty to carry out “due diligence” into the health and safety of their workplace. This duty cannot be combined for all the officers of a PCBU – each and every officer has their own due diligence duty under the Act.

The Act provides that an officer must “exercise appropriate proactive steps” to ensure that the PCBU is undertaking their health and safety obligations under the Act. What constitutes appropriate steps for the officer will depend on their particular circumstances, including what type of PCBU they are an officer of.

An officer’s duty will also depend on the level of influence they have on the PCBU’s compliance with health and safety regulations. This means that a person with a higher level of influence will have an elevated duty to ensure the PCBU is complying with the Act.

An officer’s duty includes knowing and understanding the type of work that their PCBU is conducting and making sure health and safety measures are being followed, and that appropriate reporting requirements are in place so the officers are receiving the necessary information.

Appropriate and proactive steps will include ensuring that the correct safety measures are in place, and are being followed.

The key to an officer’s duty is ensuring that the PCBU is fulfilling their health and safety duties. If officers are not meeting this due diligence duty, WorkSafe New Zealand may intervene to enforce the PCBU to follow their health and safety duties.

As an officer, it is important to know your obligations under the Act and ensure you are meeting them. If there is confusion about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area. 

 

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