The High Court has rejected an appeal by Australia Post against a liability claim from a subcontractor.
The subcontractor, engaged by a transport company, injured her back while lifting a parcel into her van at Australia Post. She sued Australia Post for damages, arguing it was negligent in failing to provide trolleys or mechanical lifting devices to reduce the manual handling risks.
Earlier, the District Court had rejected the subcontractor’s claim, but the Court of Appeal found in her favour. Australia Post then appealed to the High Court, alleging the driver had failed to determine the weight of the parcel before lifting it.
However, the High Court found the subcontractor was:
- Injured while working under a system devised by Australia Post;
- Working solely for Australia Post e.g. not an independent contractor; and
- Performing a task that did not require specialist expertise e.g. not a contractor delivering specialist skills for which Australia Post relied upon.
Lesson – Understand the status and type of contractor roles used within your business and apply appropriate controls.
If you desire an independent audit of your contractor arrangements or assistance with upgrading your contractor management procedures call Safety Action T. 03 9690 6311.