Why Managers and Supervisors Have a Vital Role in WHS Compliance

As you know duty holders in a workplace are all interdependent to some degree on what the other duty holders do. This article deals with why the PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) and its Officers rely heavily on what Managers and Supervisors do and what should be done about that.

Why the PCBU and Officers rely on Managers and Supervisors Managers and Supervisors have a duty of care under the WHS Act that means;

1. They must take reasonable care;

  • for their own health and safety, and

  • not to adversely affect the health and safety of others,


2. They must comply with reasonable instructions and cooperate with reasonable policies and procedures regarding health and safety.

Examples of this are;

  • Managers and Supervisors must take reasonable care that everyone in their area of responsibility is fulfilling their duty of care

  • Depending on their level of responsibility, all Managers and Supervisors would be involved in the process of developing, implementing or contributing to the systems, policies and procedures about health and safety.

If Managers and Supervisors do not fulfill their duty of care it is usually because the PCBU has not fulfilled their duty of care.

Duty of the PCBU A PCBU has the primary duty of care for workplace health and safety. The PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others.

And if the PCBU is not fulfilling its duty it follows that the Officers may have not fulfilled their duty of care

Duty of Officers An officer of the PCBU must exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with their duties or obligations.

The simple message is that in order to help fulfill their duty of care, PCBU and Officers must ensure that Managers and Supervisors fulfill their duty of care. Four Steps to Help Managers and Supervisors Achieve their Duty of Care The PCBU and Officers could ensure that;

  1. Managers and Supervisors know and understand what their duty of care is

  2. Managers and Supervisors know what they need to do in their area of the workplace to fulfill their duty of care and do it.

  3. Systems are in place to verify that 1 and 2 above and achieved

  4. Managers and Supervisors are provided with the resources to make 1, 2 and 3 above a reality.

Courtenell can assist you if needed with training or consulting on the first 3 of the Four Steps

You are welcome to download this article and distribute it within your organisation.

17th April 2016 reissued 17 May 2018

You are welcome to download and distribute the article in your workplace if you feel it may be useful


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