Palletways member Rase Distribution has hardened its stance on pallet weights and is now refusing to deliver anything over 750kg in weight to residential addresses.

In November last year the Lincolnshire haulier informed Palletways and its members it would no longer deliver any pallets over 750kg on tail-lift deliveries to residential addresses unless Rase could divide them into lighter loads.

The ban followed a risk assessment by the haulier, which concluded tail-lift deliveries to domestic addresses of pallet loads of more than 750kg posed an unacceptable risk to drivers.

However, last week the company, which is owned by HW Coates, took the restriction further to include even those loads over 750kg that are divisible.

Rase Distribution MD Geoff Hill told MT: “We have decided to make a stand now on this issue as it is too important to ignore. We will no longer split those 750kg-plus pallets that are divisible – as of this week all pallets over 750kg will be returned to the [Palletways] Fradley depot.”

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Hill added: “If the weight of the pallet is outside of the scope of our Safe System of Work policy, which has established there is a risk to our drivers delivering anything over 750kg, then we won’t pay the cost of hiring a courier for those pallets we return,” he said.

In correspondence seen by MT Palletways stated that Rase has a contractual obligation “to deliver all manifested freight including tail-lift deliveries to residential addresses up to 1,000kg.

“If there is a situation when Rase is unable to provide this service, then a courier should be arranged and the costs passed to Rase”.

However, HW Coates MD Tom Coates said: “The question is, can a contract that requires a firm to deliver a pallet that that company’s risk assessment has shown to be an unsafe weight, be enforced?”

He pointed to the death of HGV driver Petru Pop in November 2016. Pop was crushed to death by a 1,400kg pallet of tiles he was delivering to a domestic address in High Wycombe, Bucks, for Reason Transport, which was a Palletways member at the time.

Coates said: “Our argument is clear. When Petru Pop died making that delivery it made home deliveries a known risk. Known risks have to be assessed under law. We assessed that known risk and found it posed an unacceptable risk to our drivers. So we set the limit at 750kg. We cannot ignore that risk under law,” he said.

Palletways had not responded to a request for comment as MT went to press.