Martin v TNT Australia Pty Ltd T/A TNT  FWC
440 concerned a dispute about an employee's ability to
perform the inherent requirements of his role as a bulk freight
delivery driver and whether the inherent requirements nominated by
the employer were reasonable.
After undergoing a total knee replacement and obtaining a
medical clearance from his general practitioner to return to work,
the employer requested the employee undergo a second medical
The parties agreed on the following questions for determination
for the assessment:
Is the employee fit to perform the inherent requirements of the
role of a bulk driver with TNT?
Should the employee be returned to his role immediately with
appropriate 'work hardening' as recommended by medical
What were the inherent requirements?
The employer relied on a 'core physical demands
document' which stipulated a range of inherent requirements in
determining that the employee was not fit for his role.
The employee argued that the nature of inherent requirements is
that they must be 'an essential feature or requirement of a
role, and must be reasonable and objectively assessed'.
Relevantly, the employee argued that the evidence established
that the 'inherent requirements' relied on by the employer
were not and, in fact, could not be, the inherent requirements of
the employee's role and that compliance with the core physical
demands document would cause employees to breach other safety
procedures, with possible consequences for disciplinary action.
The employer had implemented a safe system of work in respect of
manual handling, including that employees not lift freight alone
that exceeds 20 kg or that is awkward in shape or size.
The Commission held that the assessment of inherent requirements
for a bulk driver must take into account; the employees, the nature
of the job and tasks in combination with the reasonable
accommodations, for example, the lifting aids available and other
manual handling procedures and practices.
The Commission said that the employer left it to drivers to
assess the risk of moving each heavy item, and that lifting very
heavy items was not an essential requirement of the worker's
role, stating that:
If they are unable to safely lift an item it is further
up to the driver how to safely perform the work; be it by use of a
pallet jack, trolley or other aid, a fellow worker or by making
arrangements for the safe delivery of the item.
The medical evidence further established that the employee was
able to lift at least 25 kg. Therefore, the commissioner found the
worker was fit to work as a bulk delivery driver, and ordered that
he return to his role with the appropriate 'work
hardening', as recommended by the medical evidence.
Cooper Grace Ward is a leading Australian law firm based in
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