Pallet weights guidance

Pallet network operators need to join forces to ensure new HSE guidance on tail lift deliveries and pallet weights is observed by pallet networks.

The call comes from Paul Johnson, the chairman of the RHA’s Transport, Warehousing and Pallet Distribution Group (TWPDG).

Johnson, who is also MD of Transervice Express Transport, wants all pallet network hauliers and operators that carry out tail lift deliveries to join the TWPDG to better prepare for the guidance - due to be published in December - and to ensure pallet networks abide by it.

The HSE and an industry working group came together three years ago to develop the guidance on tail lift deliveries following mounting concern at the rising number of accidents and deaths resulting from delivery drivers having to shift heavy pallets, often in difficult conditions during residential deliveries.

A leaked copy of the draft guidance seen by reveals that, whilst an optimum pallet weight for tail lift deliveries is not recommended, the guidance does highlight HSE tests which established that recommended safety limits for starting and stopping a load were breached by 50% when attempting to move pallets in excess of 750kg.

The draft guidance says this figure increases “considerably” in real world conditions and suggests the need for a dynamic risk assessment when transporting pallets weighing 500kg or more.

It also stresses pallet weight is only one element and highlights other key factors such as communication throughout the chain, use of the right equipment and knowledge of site conditions.

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Johnson told "We need to create a forum where all operators that carry out tail lift deliveries can discuss how to best implement the new guidance. Although this does not clearly limit pallet weights it is still a game changer."

He added that the group would also be able to present a “united front” to any pallet network that attempted to pressure members to contravene the new guidance.

He said: “The pallet networks are not as exposed as their members are to this guidance and they never will be. At the end of the day it is the operators who have the noose around their neck if anything goes wrong. We are the ones who will be prosecuted and so we, as operators, need to get together and talk about how best to implement this new guidance."

He insisted the TWPDG is not an exclusive group, pointing out that the Association of Pallet Networks is one of its 260-plus members.

He added: “We are not setting ourselves up against the pallet networks. We hope and expect all the pallet networks will approach this guidance sensibly but if not, then a forum of operators with the backing of RHA, presenting a united front, will make much more of a difference and have more influence than one individual operator.”