The Australian Postal Corporation v Comcare [2014] FWC 3228 (15 May 2014)

Background:

In February 2014, a driver crashed their car into a supporting column in a high traffic area of Australia Post’s mail delivery centre in Melbourne.

A building inspector issued an interim emergency order prohibiting work as the canopy that the column was supporting was at risk of collapsing.  Comcare subsequently issued a prohibition notice as an inspector observed Australia Post employees working under the canopy the following day.

Australia Post made an application to the Commission to quash the notice arguing that the inspector could not have held a “bona fide belief” the damaged column posed a risk because he “conducted activity” underneath or in close proximity to the canopy to undertake the inspection and did not take an engineer’s report into account that stated the canopy was unlikely to collapse.

Decision:

The Commission set aside the prohibition notice but ordered that Australia Post install barricading around the damaged column until the column was replaced.

However, the Commissioner did note that the risk of collapse was “not fanciful or negligible”, that Comcare was not required by legislation to seek or rely on expert opinion in the circumstances and that inspectors are often required to “place themselves in hazardous situations” in the course of their duties.