Plans to update Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on pallet weights this year, after continuing concerns regarding the risk to tail-lift delivery drivers, could see pallet weight limits set below the original target of 750kg.

News of the change came as the daughter of a driver crushed to death after a 1,100kg of tiles fell on him during a residential delivery  prepared a petition calling for a change in the law to ban individual pallets weighing over 750kg (see below).

The new HSE guidance will be based on the findings of an industry working group, which was tasked by HSE last year to look at whether maximum pallet weights should be reduced to 750kg.

However, MT has learnt that the group’s findings could result in individual pallet weight limits falling even further than the suggested 750kg, with guidance being introduced as early as the end of this year.

Acceptable weight

Ray Engley, chairman of the industry group and RHA technical director, said: “HSE is aware of the problem and we are hoping for regulations on limiting pallet weights by the end of the year. We are asking what is an acceptable pallet weight? Is 750kg an adequate weight or should it be less? Certainly a pallet weight of 1,100kg would not be acceptable.”

As part of the brief the group has been carrying out push and pull testing of pallet weights. Training standards are also being investigated, particularly among agency drivers. Engley said: “We are particularly concerned about levels of training for people who do not normally do this type of work. The big question is, are they adequately trained to do the job they are asked to do.”

Engley ruled out legislation on pallet weights on the grounds that it would take too long to bring forward. “If we have official guidance on pallet weights, anyone failing to observe that guidance will be held to account by the HSE,” he said.

Accurately identified

Asked if new guidance would apply to consignors as well as hauliers, Engley said it could require consignors to correctly identify weights on all pallets. “We want to ensure all pallets are clearly and accurately marked and that appropriate pallets are used,” he said, adding: “People don’t appreciate the effort it takes to make a pallet move on pallet trucks. We are asking if a single operator and a hand pallet lifter are adequate – are they sufficient to do the job?”

The sequence in which pallet loads are loaded into trucks for delivery and the locations to which deliveries are made are also being considered by the working group. “Both the loading of the vehicle and the delivery profile of that vehicle need to be considered. It is not an easy job, without having to shift pallets to get to other pallets.

"Drivers have to deal with cambers and slopes during deliveries, putting a new aspect on it. It can be difficult to control a heavy pallet in those conditions. We are looking at every aspect of this issue,” Engley explained.

Rise in demand

The rapid growth in demand for pallet deliveries was a key factor in the rise in pallet weights, Engley said. “Pallet networks have been so successful they are now carrying goods such as aggregates and stone slabs that they’d never dreamed of carrying a few years ago. They’ve been good at creating consolidation centres but now weights on pallets are different and that needs to be addressed.”

Referring to the death of Reason Transport driver Petru Pop, Engley said: “It is a tragedy and unfortunately it is not the first fatality and so it is very important we address all aspects of this issue.” He added that the regulations also need to ensure drivers are empowered to refuse to make a delivery where risks have been identified.


The daughter of a truck driver who was crushed to death while unloading a 1,100kg pallet of tiles is launching a petition calling for legislation to limit maximum pallet weights to 750kg.

HGV driver Petru Soimu Pop, aged 52, who was employed by Palletways member Reason Transport, died last November while making a tail-lift delivery to a residential address in High Wycombe. The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the incident.

Iulia Pop told MT she and her family were devastated by her father’s death. She decided to launch a petition after learning there are no legal limits to pallet weights in the UK.

“The pallet of tiles that killed my father weighed 1,100kg. How can that be allowed? He was making a domestic delivery and had no help and the road was on a slope. How can one person be expected to deal with that weight?”


Pop said her father had joined Reason Transport nine days before his death and she was shocked to learn there are no legal limits on pallet weights. “I couldn’t believe it. I run a pub and we’re subject to many health and safety regulations.

“How can there be no laws for pallet weights? If there had been a law it could have saved my Dad’s life, but now I hope my petition will save other people’s lives and stop other families having to suffer what me, my mother and brother are suffering,” she said.

Pop will now launch the petition after the current purdah period ends once a new government is elected. “I am appealing to all drivers and their families who have similar stories to come forward and share them with me to help get the petition going.”

She added: “I am aiming to campaign until we have enough online signatures to get the right to be debated in parliament.”