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An expected decision by the Health and Safety Executive to not limit the weight of tail-lift pallet deliveries has been met with anger by pallet networks, with Pall-Ex group MD Kevin Buchanan describing the result as the “biggest fudge under the sun”.

The outcome of the three-year HSE review, prompted by rising driver injuries and deaths from tail-lift delivery accidents, is understood to include no limit on pallet weights and a requirement that drivers make a risk assessment of each tail-lift delivery at point of delivery.

The recommendations have been passed to the pallet weight working group, which will put together draft guidance for industry consultation later this year.

Passing the buck

Buchanan criticised the recommendations and called for mandatory regulations to limit pallet weights. He told MT: “The onus of responsibility has been pushed on to the driver.

"The HSE is saying ‘over to you hauliers, you sort it out’, and that is just not good enough. Much more needs to be done, and that includes reducing pallet weights.”

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He added: “It is really sad, because people are dying. If this is all the HSE can come up with after three years, then it is massively disappointing.”

Palletforce CEO Michael Conroy also criticised the lack of pallet weight limits in the HSE recommendations. “To have no guidance from the HSE on such an important, sector-wide issue is very disappointing,” he said.

Safety benefit doubts

An HSE spokeswoman told MT the review had found that setting a pallet weight limit would not be sensible and would “have the effect of preventing a large proportion of potentially safe hand pallet movements and would severely affect the industry with little or no safety benefit”.

Weight, the HSE review found was just one factor in safe handling.

She said: “It is the responsibility of those in control of transport operations to ensure the suitable assessment and management of health and safety risks to their employees and others.

“The guidance the working group develops will support the industry in doing this with respect to delivery of pallets. Drivers do have a role but all of the responsibility for safe delivery is not with them.”

RHA technical services advisor Ray Engley, who chairs the pallet weight industry working group, told MT: “This remains a work in progress. I cannot comment on what individual operators within the pallet industry believe or are stating."