The union representing Australia's postal workers is concerned fire-prone Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, returned as part of a global recall, could be placing Australia Post workers at risk.
It has called for "urgent" detail on what safety controls the postal corporation has put in place to protect employees handling returned devices.
Samsung issued a recall of all its Galaxy Note 7 devices in both Australia and overseas initially in September following reports of the phones overheating and catching fire.
It was forced to issue a second recall earlier this month after customers reported that replacement Note 7s were also exploding. The manufacturer has now decided to stop making the phone altogether.
The company has sent out return kits containing fireproof boxes and gloves for customers to ship their devices back to Samsung through the post.
But the Communications Workers Union says this poses a risk to the safety of postal workers handling the boxes.
“If these exploding phones are not safe enough to be carried on passenger aircraft then what steps have been taken to ensure they’re safe enough to be transported in aircraft or postal vehicles packed with paper and other flammable material?” CWU national secretary Greg Rayner said in a statement.
“Now, hundreds of these potentially dangerous phones will be circulating through our postal system, exposing workers and the public to extraordinary risk without them being aware.”
International and Australian airlines have banned passengers from bringing the smartphones on board flights. Samsung Australia last week said it was setting up booths in airports across the country that would enable customers to swap out their devices.
“So far we have heard nothing from Australia Post, or the federal government for that matter, on how they will protect workers and the general public," Rayner said.
The CWU has urged Australia Post to take immediate action to ensure the safety of both its workers and the general public before "one of these potentially ticking time bombs blows up and costs lives".
Australia Post said Samsung had advised the postal corporation that the Note 7 was safe to transport as long as it is turned off - advice which has been "consistently communicated" to device users.
It said it was not carrying parcels containing the smartphone by air, and was accepting returns of the device via road transport in clearly marked packages.
"We continue to review the situation and consult with our employees and their representatives. In the meantime we have advised product distributors to instruct their customers to return the devices directly to them," a spokesperson said.