Pallet networks claim HSE placing the burden of safe tail-lift deliveries on drivers' shoulders

 

Pallet networks have accused the HSE of placing the burden of responsibility for safe tail-lift deliveries onto drivers, with the regulator understood to have stopped short of imposing a weight limit.

As well as no limit on pallet weights, the recommendations are understood to include a requirement that drivers make a risk assessment of each tail-lift delivery at the point of delivery.

They are the outcome of a three year HSE review prompted by rising driver injuries and deaths caused by tail-lift delivery accidents.

The pallet weight working group, which includes the RHA and the pallet networks, will use the HSE recommendations to put together draft guidance for industry consultation later this year.

Pall-Ex group MD Kevin Buchanan criticised the recommendations and called for mandatory regulation to limit pallet weights. 

He told CM: “The onus of responsibility has been pushed towards the driver. HSE is saying ‘Over to you hauliers, you sort it out’ and that is just not good enough. Much more needs to be done, and that includes reducing pallet weights.”

He added: “It is really sad, because people are dying. If this is all HSE can come up with after three years, then it is massively disappointing. This is a classic institutional disaster - the biggest fudge under the sun.”

Palletforce CEO Michael Conroy also criticised the lack of pallet weight limits in the HSE recommendations. “To have no guidance from the HSE on such an important, sector-wide issue is very disappointing,” he said.

An HSE spokeswoman told CM its review had found that setting a pallet weight limit would “have the effect of preventing a large proportion of potentially safe hand-pallet movement and would severely affect the logistics industry with little or no safety benefit".

As weight is just one factor in safe handling, a limit would not be sensible, the HSE added.

“It is the responsibility of those in control of transport operations to ensure the suitable assessment and management of health and safety risks to their employees and others. The guidance the working group develops will support the industry in doing this with respect to delivery of pallets. Drivers do have a role but all of the responsibility for safe delivery is not with them,” the spokeswoman said.

RHA technical services advisor Ray Engley, who chairs the pallet weight industry working group, said: “This work remains a work in progress. I cannot comment on what individual operators within the pallet industry believe or are stating.”