Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

News release


Organisations must manage their risk profile

During National Safe Work Australia Week, Jones Lang LaSalle examines the risks and opportunities for Work, Health and Safety legislation in Australia’s work force 20 months on

​​AUSTRALIA, 24 October 2013 – During Safe Work Australia’s National Safe Work Australia Week, Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest Research report, Managing Risk: National work health and safety harmonisation looks at the risks and opportunities for Work, Health and Safety (WHS) legislation in Australia’s work force 20 months on.

According to the report, the legislation changes implemented in 2012 and taken up initially by NSW, the ACT, QLD and the NT and in 2013 by South Australia and Tasmania have resulted in significant change to the structure of WHS operations within Australian businesses.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s Australian Head of Project and Development Services Kevin Hastings said, “Arguably the most significant change as a result of new WHS legislation has been to the responsibility of those in organisations to manage their risk profiles. 

“The introduction of the term Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) has signified a shift in the duty of care for WHS in work places. 

“Prior to the national legislation changes, the primary duty of care for health and safety was the responsibility of the employer. Now, the duty of care extends to an increased number of people (PCBUs) to ensure the health and safety of their work places. It’s not only the responsibility of employers, but also other individuals and organisations including contractors, sole traders, partners, government departments and authorities, schools, universities and more. 

“Organisations and individuals need to be aware of these legislative changes – particularly those undertaking construction or refurbishment projects,” said Mr Hastings.

Under the new work health and safety (WHS) laws, effective from 1 January 2012, the term ‘employers’ was replaced by ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) and ‘employees’ was replaced by ‘workers’ . 

Mr Hastings said an issue that has been perceived with the new laws, delaying immediate national take up of the legislation, is that with more people functioning as PCBUs, building owners, tenants, property managers, facility managers, subcontractors, workers and site managers can find themselves with a heightened risk profile as a PCBU. 

“To reduce the new risk profile, building owners and tenants should clarify their positions as PCBUs, identify the risks of taking on the role of principal contractor, and to seek advice on what controls can be put in place to minimise the risks.”

According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s National Health and Safety Advisor for Project and Development Services Roy Statham, the legislation has created a consistency across a large part of the country – which is an improvement on the past.

“The benefits of having a national WHS policy include greater clarity and simplicity, reduced costs for national businesses, nationally consistent safety standards and reduced government expenditure in development and administering laws around WHS.”

The new penalties for non-compliance by a corporation increased from $800,000 to $3 million in NSW and similar increases were seen in other states under the new harmonised WHS laws. 

Additionally, officers of an organisation can be convicted of negligence and face up to five years’ imprisonment, should it be found that they did not conduct due diligence on their projects.
“It’s crucial for organisations to understand the WHS legislation and how it relates directly to their responsibilities,” concluded Mr Statham.

​Source: Jones Lang LaSalle