We have posted a blog about Suspicious Packages in the past but a recent enquiry from a customer raised this as an issue that few people consider in the workplace.

While you may think it’s not a common occurrence, being aware of and knowing what to do with a suspicious package that has been delivered to your business is a vital skill.

It is essential that you and your staff can identify a package that may pose a risk and know what process to follow once you’ve determined that there is a risk.

How do I know if a letter or package is suspicious?

In essence, you are looking for letters or packages that are not quite normal for your workplace or have been delivered to you in an unconventional manner.

If your initial thoughts about the package are that it just doesn’t seem right, you need to ask yourself some questions about the package and make some specific observations.

  • Does the letter or package have excessive postage on it?
  • Are the address details hand-written and perhaps contain poorly spelt words?
  • Is there no addressee for the letter or package?
  • Are there specific instructions, such as “Private Mail”, “Confidential”, “Do Not X-ray” or similar written on it?
  • Is the package overly secured with tape?
  • Are there wires protruding from the package?
  • Are there visible oily marks, or a powdery substance on the package?
  • Was it delivered by a random courier or left at the front door?
  • Can you smell something coming from the package or letter?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, the package should be treated as suspicious.

What should I do with the suspicious letter or package?

If you decide that the letter or package is suspicious you should leave it where it is, tell anyone in the immediate area that you believe it to be suspicious and move them away from the area and inform your supervisor and/or the Chief Warden.  Inform them of your suspicions about the package and where you have left it.

The package should be isolated and everyone else moved to a safe location.  The Supervisor and/or Chief Warden will determine if the Emergency Services need to be called to investigate further.

If the letter or package is suspected to contain a powder or other similar substance you should place a waste-paper bin or similar object over the letter/package to further isolate it.

Nobody should touch, move or tamper with the package pending the arrival of Emergency Services.


If you believe the package contains some type of contaminant, whoever handled the package, and those in the immediate area should be isolated from the rest of the employees in a location by themselves. This should include those who have since had contact with the person who handled the package. Once isolated they should wash their hands thoroughly and remain away from each other in that room.  Emergency services will manage their welfare when they arrive.  If anyone shows any signs of distress or obvious health issues, the Emergency Services need to be informed immediately.

Your workplace should have a response procedure for suspicious packages, if it has been assessed that this is a risk to your workplace, as part of the Workplace Emergency Plan for that facility.  All employees who are front line managing the receipt of mail and packages should be made aware of the procedures to follow in assessing any packages arriving at the workplace.

If you would like more information or information about training for managing suspicious packages please contact our friendly staff on 1300 831 694 or at [email protected]


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