Fortec has followed Palletline and become the second pallet network to back a tail-lift weight restriction of 750kg across its network.

The new weight restriction will kick in from next month and follows Palletline’s announcement in March that it would launch a weight restriction of 750kg on all standard tail-lift deliveries from 1 October this year.

Fortec general manager, operations, Adrian Bradley told the strategy came about after consulting with the Association of Pallet Networks (APN). “Reducing that weight to 750kg means we can actually deliver what we say we are going to – and safely,” he said, adding that the health and safety of Fortec’s drivers had to take precedence over additional costs the scheme may incur.

“You hear horror stories of 1,200kg, 2,000kg on a pallet. We’re putting the drivers first. Forget about everything else. Yes, there is a small threat to revenue, but this is about health and safety,” he said.

Amy Liston, commercial development head at Palletline, welcomed Fortec’s decision. “If we have inspired other pallet networks to do this, then that’s great,” she said.

“Our aim in introducing this weight restriction is to safeguard our drivers who are our key asset. If we have sparked a safety debate in the industry that leads to more pallet networks doing this, then that is an added benefit,” Liston added.

Palletline has also launched a spin-off service this week, dubbed Lift Assist. Under the service, Palletline members will use either “enhanced” manual or electric pallet trucks to enable safe tail-lift deliveries over 750kg.

Liston said the service was aimed at members delivering aggregates where tail-lift weight restrictions of 750kg were difficult to adhere to.

RHA head of technical services Ray Engley welcomed Fortec’s decision to follow Palletline’s lead, but said more needed to be done to ensure industry-wide acceptance.

“This is progress but how can you police this across the industry? That’s why we want an industry-wide code of practice which will have far more impact. I am pushing on an open door with the HSE on this. Now we just need to get the industry round the table,” he said.

APN chairman Paul Sanders said he supported the introduction of a code of practice, and APN was working with the HSE and RHA to achieve this.

“If there is a requirement for extra handling equipment for weights above 750kg then it needs to be agreed that customers would fund this, since there is no way this cost can be absorbed by members working on the extremely low margins that exist in the industry,” he said.