Pallet distribution hauliers have banded together under a new RHA forum that aims to tackle major issues facing the sector and share best practice.

The forum, which was formally launched in March at the RHA’s AGM, is open to association members who are either in a pallet network or hauliers involved in pallet distribution.

The pallet distribution forum will operate under the umbrella of  what was the RHA’s Transport and Warehousing Group, and is now known as the Transport, Warehousing and Pallet Distribution Group (TWPDG).

Speaking to MT, TWPDG secretary Chrys Rampley, said: “Important issues, such as tail lift pallet weights and the rise of online buying, have highlighted the need for greater representation of our members operating in this sector.

"Pallet networks have the Association of Pallet Networks to represent them. However pallet network members and other hauliers operating in the pallet distribution sector felt that they did not have a voice. So we have created a forum that will give them that.”

Rampley said the forum is included under the umbrella of the RHA’s Transport and Warehousing Group because of the synergies that exist between the three sectors.

Paul Johnson, MD of TPN member Transervice, played a central role in setting up the forum. He told MT: “This is not about driving a wedge between the pallet networks. Until now, we, as pallet network hauliers, had no voice other than within our own networks.

He added: “We may be in different networks but we all face the same problems and issues, such as driver retention and pallet weights. So this group is a place where we can share our experiences and our knowledge.

"The networks are quite happy for their members to work with other networks’ members on these issues.”

Rampley said one major discussion point for the forum is the forthcoming HSE Code of Practice on tail-lift pallet weights. A draft document has been produced by an industry working group, led by RHA technical consultant Ray Engley.

The draft Code of Practice includes a requirement that the entire supply chain, from the consigner, to the pallet networks, their members, drivers and the end customer, take greater responsibility in ensuring loads can be delivered safely.

“HSE have made clear that the code of practice will be like the Highway Code with operators expected to comply with it,” Rampley added