WHS Terms for the Construction Industry

 In White Card Blogs

White Card Terminology

The model WHS Act uses terms throughout legislation, regulations and codes of practice which are applicable to day to day activities at the workplace. While the terms defined below are used consistently in the states and territories where each jurisdiction has implemented model WHS laws, there are terms used by other states such as in Western Australia that differ.


Any place where work is carried out for a business or undertaking. This may include offices, factories, shops, construction sites, vehicles, ships, aircraft or other mobile structures on land or water such as offshore units and platforms.

Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU)

To more adequately reflect modern workplace arrangements, the harmonised WHS laws replacing current health and safety laws use the term ‘person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)’ instead of employer. The term ‘PCBU’ includes a broader category of entities, including sole traders, principal contractors, unincorporated associations, partnerships and franchisees as well as those traditionally considered to be employers. Self-employed people and volunteer organisations that employ people are also PCBUs under the WHS legislation.

The Act defines a PCBU as: A person conducting a business or undertaking alone or with others, whether or not for profit or gain. A PCBU can be a sole trader (for example a self-employed person), a partnership, company, unincorporated association or government department of public authority (including a municipal council). An elected member of a municipal council acting in that capacity is not a PCBU.

In Western Australia, the term employer is used to reference a person that employs an employee under a contract of employment, or employs a trainee or apprentice under an apprenticeship or traineeship scheme.

Person with Management or Control of a Workplace

A person with management or control of a workplace means a person conducting a business or undertaking to the extent that the business or undertaking involves the management or control, in whole or in part, of the workplace but does not include:

  • The occupier of a residence, unless the residence is occupied for the purposes of, or as part of, the conduct of a business or undertaking
  • A prescribed person

A Worker

A person is a worker if the person carries out work in any capacity for a person conducting a business or undertaking, including work as:

  • An employee
  • A contractor or subcontractor
  • An apprentice or trainee
  • A student gaining work experience
  • A volunteer

The person conducting the business or undertaking is also a worker if the person is an individual who carries out work in that business or undertaking.

Work group

A work group is a group of workers who share a similar work situation. For example, a work group might consist of all workers in the office part of a manufacturing complex, or it might consist of people of the same trade, or it might consist of all people on the night shift. If agreed, workers from multiple businesses can be part of the same work group which might include contractors, labour hire staff, outworkers and apprentices.

Principal Contractor (PC)

A Principal Contractor must be appointed for a Construction Project – a project that involves construction work where the cost of the construction work is $250,000.00 or more.

A person conducting a business or undertaking that commissions a construction project, or a person engaged by this person, is the principal contractor for the project.

If the owner of residential premises is an individual who directly or indirectly engages a person conducting a business or undertaking to undertake a construction project in relation to the premises, the person so engaged is the principal contractor for the project if the person has management or control of the workplace.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text.