Jury Is out on Safe Weight Limits for Pallets

When Palletline and Fortec announced, back in 2015, that they would be introducing a maximum weight limit for pallets, many in the industry assumed that widespread change would follow. This does not seem likely in all quarters, however, as the chief executive of another major network has spoken out to confirm that it has no plans to introduce a similar limit.

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Speaking as part of an interview for this month’s Commercial Motor publication, Palletways’ chief executive, James Wilson, said that the network’s current health and safety and working practices made the introduction of a maximum weight limit an unnecessary measure.

Mr Wilson said the jury is still out on what should be considered safe pallet weights, and he added that Palletways was committed to investing in health and safety and was achieving the safe loading of both vehicles and the network’s tail-lifts without breaching recommended criteria.

Palletline became the first network to announce last year that there would be a 750kg weight limit placed on pallets for deliveries using standard tail-lifts. The company is still delivering heavier pallets if additional charges are paid for a specialist Lift Assist service. Fortec followed suit and announced a similar move later in the year.

Both companies reported that their membership had encouraged the introduction of the maximum weight limit, but Mr Wilson said that this was not the case at Palletwise and that the network was committed to recognising the increased home-delivery demand that now exists and ensuring that investment was made to ensuring drivers are adequately trained to carry out their tasks.

Mr Wilson said that the network believed that imposing a maximum weight limit on pallets was unnecessary, claiming that it was a knee-jerk reaction similar to calling for motorbikes to be banned by people who consider them to be unsafe.
As part of the interview, the chief executive said that B2C deliveries now made up 18 per cent of its British turnover. This, he said, is an increase of eight per cent on figures from four years ago and highlights the area as one of Palletwise’s quickest-growing revenue sectors.

Mr Wilson added that the network’s haulier membership had responded to this trend with investment in equipment and tail-lift vehicles to help with deliveries to private addresses.

Yet Palletline and Fortec remain committed to the 750kg limit, and the former’s website celebrates the network’s Safety in Operation award at the 2015 Motor Transport Awards (MTA) and its RoSPA Gold Award. The network highlights that MTA judges specifically praised the weight-limit decision.

Whatever the long-term outcome, we at Holmes Mann applaud the debate and welcome new ideas to improve our industry. It goes without saying that we will never compromise on the well being of our staff and customers, and believe that when it comes to health and safety, good quality procedures – mixed with heaps of common sense – will always prevail.

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