Work health and safety (WHS) is about ensuring the safety, health and welfare of people while they are at work.

This includes the legal obligations employers have to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for their workers.

PCBU – person conducting a business or undertaking

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 place the primary duty of care, and various other duties and legal obligations on a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’, or PCBU.

A ‘person’ can refer to both an individual and a business, so a PCBU can be a:

  • corporation
  • partnership
  • unincorporated association
  • self employed person, or
  • sole trader.

PCBU responsibilities

As a PCBU, you have legal obligations to establish and maintain a safe workplace for your workers. Not complying with these obligations is against the law and may result in penalties. 

There are practices and systems you must put in place to ensure you're compliant, including:

  • a first aid plan
  • an emergency plan
  • the "if you get injured at work" poster
  • training and instruction
  • an injury register
  • a workers compensation insurance policy
  • a return to work plan.

To access specific industry and business safety information and advice, visit SafeWork NSW.

Workers compensation insurance

Workers compensation insurance is designed to cover:

  • the wages of your workers if they suffer a work-related injury
  • any medical expenses, treatment and rehabilitation costs related to the injury.

Most employers in NSW are legally required to have a workers compensation insurance policy. Certain exemptions apply, but even if you are exempt, you still must provide assistance with injury management and returning to work.

Generally, employers can only take out workers compensation insurance through icare, the NSW Government provider for workers compensation insurance.

There are certain industries however that have specialised insurance providers.

Related links

SafeWork NSW offers free advisory visits and free workshops to help you maintain a safe workplace, and meet your health and safety responsibilities.

If you're a small business or sole trader, and you take up one of the free SafeWork NSW offers detailed above, you may be eligible to apply for the small business rebate. The rebate provides up to $500 to buy and install equipment that makes your workplace safer.

Use the Easy to do WHS Toolkit to assess the workplace health and safety performance of your business, and access practical steps to ensure you're meeting your WHS obligations.

Small business assist is an online tool that shows you how to comply with workers compensation law and what to do when a worker has a work-related injury or illness.

Last updated: 27 April 2023