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26 September 2019
Health and Safety

Labour hire companies: what are my responsibilities?

There is a common misconception that when you are a labour-hire company that the obligation to ensure the safety of workers purely lies with the host organisation, generally in construction, this is also the Principal Contractor.

In reality, the WHS duties are shared between the Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) in this case it would be between the Labour Hire Provider and Host Organisation which requires consultation, coordination and cooperation between the PCBUs. To assist organisations in this arrangement, Safe Work Australia has released a WHS Guide for Labour Hire in August 2019.

Shared Responsibilities for Host PCBU and Labour Hire PCBU:

  • Ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of labour-hire workers engaged by, or caused to be engaged by them, or whose activities are influenced or directed by the PCBU
  • All duty holders must consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other, so far as is reasonably practicable

It is important to note that each PCBU can't assume that the other party in the labour-hire arrangement is taking care of a health and safety matter. They must agree on how consultation, cooperation and coordination will take place, examples of topics that would be discussed include:

  • consultation arrangements for labour-hire workers;
  • hazards and risks associated with the work;
  • precautions that will be taken to ensure the health and safety of the labour-hire workers; and
  • Respective roles for the organisation when responding to an incident.

Compliance Council's approach

Compliance Council has worked with several labour-hire PCBUs over the years to develop and implement a Work Health and Safety Management System relevant to the specific context of a labour-hire PCBU. Taking this into account in the past, we have implemented two critical processes in addition to the standard processes required by ISO 45001:2018.

Conducting pre-placement evaluations

Before providing labour to a labour host PCBU, there should be a list of items that your sales representative addresses with the labour host PCBU including:

  • Discuss consultation arrangements between labour host PCBU
  • Reviewing their safety record
  • Verifying and working with the labour host PCBU to ensure site specific and task specific induction, training and PPE is provided to labour hire workers in a way that is suitable, adequate and readily understandable to them
  • Providing workers with suitable, sufficient and readily understandable WHS induction and training. Include any risks you have identified and consultation methods you have established with workers and the host PCBU
  • Gathering information about the work and the workplace/s, including the work environments, accommodation arrangements, organisational arrangements, health and safety risks associated with the work and any skills and knowledge the worker will require to undertake the work safely. Information should be provided about the facilities, work schedules and environmental factors, such as whether work will be conducted outdoors
  • Assessing the workplaces for any risks to health and safety, as appropriate. Work with the labour host PCBU to gather enough information to make an assessment, for example, by arranging a workplace visit. Where risks are identified, consult with the host/s to ensure they are eliminated, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimised
  • Consulting with the labour host PCBU and workers to ensure you and the workers understand and are confident in your understanding of the WHS policies, procedures and practices of the labour host PCBUs . E.g. a WHS Management Plan
  • Discussing with the host labour PCBU arrangements for health monitoring and vaccinations
  • Establishing communication methods workers can use to contact you if they consider there is any risk to their health or safety
  • Understanding the requirements for qualifications, licences and experience that will be required from the labour-hire workers
  • Ensuring the labour-hire workers will have the means to raise health and safety issues

Regular site visits

Organise for your employees who conduct site visits (e.g. Labour Managers) to conduct a set number of audits/inspections per week. It may not be possible to visit all sites each week but through regular checks the Labour Manager will be able to flag any issues with the host organisation and the Senior Management Team of the Labour Hire organisation. Items that should be covered in the audit/inspections include:

  • Are there any variations to the information regarding the work and work environment from what was originally provided to the labour-hire PCBU (e.g. the scope was to clean up the site, but instead the workers are assisting with other tasks)?
  • Confirming that at a minimum, the following requirements are being met:
    • Site-specific inductions for all Labour Hire Workers including outlining WHS duties, policies, procedures and practices in the workplace;
    • Labour hire workers are being involved in hazard identification activities specific to their work;
    • Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are being prepared for high-risk construction work involving the Labour Hire Workers and that the controls listed in the SWMS are being implemented;
    • Toolbox talks or other methods of consultation and communication are being conducted and involve the labour-hire workers; and
    • Training is being provided to the labour-hire workers by the labour host PCBU for the tasks that they are being asked to complete.
  • Check with the labour-hire workers to see if they have any health and safety concerns to raise or any concerns about the host organisation practices.

What to do next

If you are part of labour-hire business and you need assistance with complying with your WHS obligations, reach out to our team of consultants by:

  • Email -
  • Contact Page
  • Phone - 1800 771 275



The information in this blog post is of a general nature and is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity. We endeavour to provide accurate and timely information but we do not guarantee that the information in this blog post is accurate at the date it is published or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.