Home deliveries by pallet networks continued to grow strongly in what was a record breaking 2017, according to the Association of Pallet Networks (APN).

The latest APN figures reveal that home delivery volumes leapt by 6.9% last year as part of the sector's continued growth, and they are 24% higher than when APN started to look at the measure in 2014.

The UK's eight pallet networks shifted a record 25 million-plus pallets last year, with 12.5% of this - some 3.1 million pallets - delivered to homes.

Paul Sanders, APN chairman, said: “The significant investment our members have made in technology and more efficient urban vehicles gives them substantial competitive advantage in this home delivery market, and service levels remain high -consistently in excess of 95.5% even during peak operation.”

Sanders added: “The growth of more than 6.7% on the previous year [to more than 25 million pallets moved in totality] reflects the phenomenal service our members offer customers across a wide and growing range of industries.

“The final quarter of 2017 saw volumes rise by almost 8% from the same period in 2016. Pallet networks are benefiting from the seasonal fluctuations in the logistics sector and their ability to provide operators with a variable cost base from which to respond to their customers’ demands,” he added.

However Sanders called for “clear direction” on pallet weights, in the light of the continuing increase in tail-lift deliveries of pallets to residential addresses.

Pointing to the HSE’s review of tail lift pallet weights, which is expected to recommend no limit on pallet weights and a requirement that drivers make a risk assessment for each tail lift delivery at point of delivery, he said: “It is important we agree clear direction on this to ensure the safety of our drivers.”

Sanders added: “Whilst some operators are investing in power assisted trucks and larger platform tail lifts, the industry needs clear direction on pallet weights and driver risk assessments at delivery points.

“The consignor’s must also have a responsibility when accepting orders from their customers and ordering delivery services from our members.”

Inquest into death of pallet delivery driver to be held later this year

The inquest into the death of HGV driver Petru Pop will be heard by a jury in November this year.

Pop was crushed to death beneath a 1.1-tonne pallet of tiles, in November 2016 whilst making a tail-lift delivery to a residential address in High Wycombe.

The inquest will be held at Buckinghamshire Coroners Court and will take place on 5 November this year.