Palletways member Rase Distribution has introduced a 750kg weight limit on tail-lift deliveries to domestic addresses after a risk assessment by owners HW Coates concluded that the network’s 1-tonne limit was putting the firm’s drivers at risk.

The Lincolnshire company, which was bought by Hazchem member HW Coates in January, is calling on Palletways and other networks that do not limit pallet weights to 750kg to follow suit.

The firm will split all pallets weighing above 750kg into two loads, with indivisible loads delivered by a two-person team. Pallet loads are also limited by size to a maximum height of 2.2m, 1m wide and a maximum depth of 1.2m.

Rase Distribution MD Geoff Hill told MT that the risk assessment looked at the way it delivered pallet loads for Palletways and concluded it was “totally inadequate and potentially dangerous” for drivers to deliver weights above 750kg on hand-operated tail-lift trucks to domestic addresses.

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The operator is working its notice with Palletways because of the increasing amount of B2C deliveries it is required to make as a member and the additional cost of splitting its pallets into 750kg loads.

Hill said he hoped the firm’s strategy would help prompt change, pointing to the example of Petru Pop, an HGV driver who was crushed to death in November 2016 by a 1,400kg pallet of tiles. Pop was delivering the load to a domestic address in High Wycombe, Bucks, for Reason Transport, which was a Palletways member at the time.

The jury inquest into Pop’s death, which concluded earlier this month, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

“Under the Health and Safety at Work Act there is a duty to assess risk. We did this, and it is impossible to escape the conclusion that these heavy pallets to home addresses are unsafe. What then? You can’t ask your drivers to deliver them and then say you don’t know (the risks). If we can encourage the whole industry to take up this weight limit then Pop’s death will not have been in vain,” Hill said.

An HSE spokeswoman told MT: “The HSE assumed primacy of this investigation from Thames Valley Police in December 2016 and is continuing to investigate the circumstances. As this is a live investigation, we cannot comment at this time.”

In response to Rase’s action, Palletways said: “An industry group, which includes the HSE, RHA and APN, is carrying out work to determine best practice pallet delivery. It would be premature to comment until its work is complete. Palletways takes health and safety seriously and is dedicated to upholding health and safety best practice in partnership with our members.”