A guidance document outlining the safe handling of deliveries via pallets has still not been produced, six months after the HSE vetoed a maximum pallet weight.
The document, drafted by industry stakeholders, is described as “a work in progress” by those developing it, but initial frustration at the non-legislative approach is turning to concern that some B2C deliveries may pose a risk.
Malcolm Dodds, RHA head of technical services, admitted it was “disappointing” that the HSE had decided against setting a limit, but he said most pallet networks have measures in place to ensure all deliveries were made safely.
He added: “Guidance is just that: it’s guidance. But pallet networks probably go over and above that now anyway.”
However, Pall-Ex MD Kevin Buchanan said businesses wouldn’t adhere to guidelines until it was written into law and that current recommendations were “historic and outdated, lacking repercussions or deterrents".
He said: “Most networks and hauliers adhere to weight guidelines as they stand, but as the B2C share of the market increases, guidelines just aren’t enough.
“For end customers who are not routinely familiar with the logistics sector, deliveries could create potential risks, due to the lack of forklifts at residential properties, coupled with tricky access and navigation concerns. All of these factors can potentially increase the risk of accidents.
“Today, around 20% of our volumes are delivered to private homes, a commercially less viable model. As such, this growth of the B2C market has meant that some pallet networks are tempted to stack consignments high to boost volume and decrease costs.”
He added: “Of course, the customer benefits from a cheaper solution – that is, until a problem occurs.”
An HSE spokeswoman said its research showed weight was just one factor that could increase the force required to move a loaded pallet and that setting a maximum pallet weight “would not be sensible.”
She added: “This guidance is being developed by the industry for the industry. We would like a draft to be available as soon as possible.”