Long-delayed industry guidance on pallet weights for tail lift deliveries could finally be published early next year, has learnt.

The industry working group, which put together the draft guidance, is meeting with HSE officials to prepare the document for publication in early January.

According to industry sources, the meeting follows intense lobbying by the RHA last month after the association became so frustrated at the delay that it warned HSE officials that chief executive Richard Burnett would complain to ministers if officials did not act.

One source said: “HSE has been blaming the pandemic for the delays which is questionable since it has managed to deal with other transport matters outside of Covid-19 this year.

“RHA members were becoming very frustrated by the delays and the working group was worried it could be seen to be complicit in the delay, so RHA decided to bring in the big guns and threaten to go to ministers.”

The RHA denies the claims. However an HSE spokesman confirmed that a meeting between the working group and HSE officials will take place in early January, adding that the guidance “will play a significant role in helping duty holders assess and control the risks of tail lift deliveries. We will be meeting with all parties involved in producing the guidance in January.”

The industry working group was set up in 2015 to work with HSE on the guidance.

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The need for clearer advice was tragically highlighted in November 2016 when HGV driver Petru Pop, 52, was crushed to death by a 1.4 tonne pallet of tiles whilst making a residential tail lift delivery in High Wycombe on behalf of Reason Transport, which was at the time a member of Palletways.

In August 2019 a leaked copy of the draft guidance, seen by, revealed that, whilst an optimum pallet weight for tail-lift deliveries was not recommended, the guidance does highlight HSE tests which established that recommended safety limits for starting and stopping a load were breached by 50% when attempting to move pallets in excess of 750kg.

The draft guidance says this figure increases “considerably” in real world conditions and suggests the need for a dynamic risk assessment when transporting pallets weighing 500kg or more.

The guidance also stresses pallet weight is only one element, highlighting communication throughout the chain, use of the right equipment, conditions at the point of delivery, the stability of the pallet, that the pallet is correctly manifested and the empowerment of drivers to make a dynamic assessment at point of delivery.

The draft guidance was sent for final approval to HSE in December 2019.

In October 2020, following a lengthy HSE investigation into Pop’s death, Reason Transport UK (RTUK) was fined just £5,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

No action was taken against Palletways, which had consigned the 1.4 tonne pallet to Reason Transport for tail lift delivery.