High risk work licensing – PCBU obligations

This bulletin outlines the requirements a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 and Regulations 2011 - the WHS (NUL) Act and Regulations for ensuring the licensing of workers who perform high risk work.

Licensing of workers aims to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to perform high risk work in a safe manner, as to reduce the health and safety risk to themselves and other persons in the workplace.

PCBU to ensure worker is licensed

It is an offence under the WHS (NUL) Act for an unlicensed worker to carry out high risk work which requires a licence. It is also an offence for a PCBU to allow a worker to carry out high risk work without a licence or to direct a worker to carry out high risk work, which they don’t have a licence for (Section 43).

Certain exemptions (Regulation 82), allow an unlicensed individual to perform certain high risk work when the:

  • high risk work is carried out in the course of training towards a certification in order to obtain a high risk licence and the work is done under the supervision of an individual with a licence in that class of high risk work; or
  • high risk work is carried out by an individual who has received their certification for completing high risk work training and is waiting for a decision on their licence application; or
  • high risk work involves plant at a workplace and
    • the work carried out is solely for the purpose of the manufacture, testing, trialing, installation, commissioning, maintenance, servicing, repair, alteration, demolition or disposal of the plant at that workplace or moving the plant within the workplace; and
    • the plant is operated or used without a load except for calibration purposes; or
  • high risk work with a crane or hoist that is limited to setting up or dismantling the crane or hoist and the individual carrying out the work is licensed in rigging; or
  • high risk work carried out on a heritage boiler.

Note: The exemption for moving plant within the workplace includes loading plant onto or unloading it from a vehicle or equipment used to move the plant.

PCBU requirements to ensure supervision

A PCBU must ensure that the supervisor of an individual carrying out high risk work as part of structured training formulated by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for a high risk licence (outlined above), provides direct supervision as required in Regulation 84.

PCBU must sight evidence of a licence

A PCBU at a workplace must not direct or allow a worker to carry out high risk work which requires a licence unless the PCBU sees written evidence provided by the worker that the worker has (Regulation 85):

  1. the relevant high risk work licence for that type of work; or
  2. is undertaking the course of training referred to in Regulation 82(1) (a) (i); or
  3. applied for the relevant licence and holds the certification referred to in Regulation 82(1) (b).

A PCBU must also see written evidence from the worker carrying out the supervision of high risk work, as outlined above, that the worker has the relevant licence for the high risk work they are supervising.

Record keeping

A PCBU is required to keep the written evidence given to them for at least 1 year after a worker carries out high risk work. Written evidence is also required to be kept for at least 1 year from the last occasion a worker carries out supervision of high risk work.