Parcel carriers - Enforcement allocation

SIM 05/2004/52, previously SIM 05/2004/12

The purpose of this SIM is to confirm the enforcement allocation between HSE and local authorities for premises being used by parcel carriers.

1. Under current administrative arrangements Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 53200, 'other postal and courier activities' is allocated to HSE.

This SIC includes the pick-up, transport and delivery of letters and mail-type parcels and packages by firms other than national post. One or more modes of transport may be involved and the activity may be carried out with either self-owned (private) transport or via public transport.

2. The collection and delivery of a parcel can involve transport ranging from a bicycle to a large trailer. The SIC therefore includes couriers who may only collect and deliver packages between office buildings through to sorting hubs that move large numbers of parcels

3. Confusion can arise between parcel carriers, logistic operations and warehousing. The following criteria will assist inspectors to identify parcel carriers for which HSE are the enforcing authority.

  • (1) Parcels are not normally kept on the premises for more than two working days;
  • (2) There is a collection and delivery service involving mixed sized parcels normally from more than one consignor to more than one recipient;
  • (3) The premises are connected to a national system delivering outside the area of the depot such as by feeding into a national sorting hub;

4. Rather than have a national sorting hub a carrier may use local depots for sorting, connected by a fleet of trunking vehicles. Such a business is a parcel carrier, under SIC 53200.

5. A regional parcel carrier will sort parcels within their region using their depots and feed parcels for delivery outside their region into a national parcel carrier. They may also make deliveries within their region on behalf of the national parcel carrier. Such an independent regional parcel carrier is part of the national industry and are enforced by HSE.

6. Companies operating as parcel carriers have developed a variety of niche markets which can take some of their activities out of the definition of SIC 53200. For example a logistics operation is more likely to fall within SIC 49410 'freight transport'. Problems can arise with companies which provide both a logistics service as well as a normal parcel delivery service. The main business activity at the site should be used to decide on the most appropriate SIC.

7. Logistic companies may provide a call off system as well as their normal parcel operation. For example a chain of high street shops may keep very little spare stock in their shops. When an item is sold an automatic request is sent to the logistic company who will withdraw a replacement article from their warehouse and deliver it to the shop. This could involve a single delivery of several items each day or a bulk delivery once a week. As regards catalogue companies frequently sold goods may be kept at a local warehouse operated by the logistics company and called off for delivery as a parcel to a private address. This produces some allocation difficulties between HSE and the Local Authorities (LAs) as to whether the major activity is that of parcel delivery or warehousing. Inspectors will have to decide what is the major business activity of the premises. If the company's main activity is parcel delivery it may be appropriate to make a local arrangement for premises with both parcel delivery and warehousing activities to be inspected by HSE as we are likely to have national contacts with the company.

8. Some national companies have segregated logistics, parcel carriage and courier activities by using separate trading names or setting up subsidiary companies. Such divisions may be of assistance in deciding on an appropriate SIC.

9. Within the industry a variety of franchise arrangements exist. These may involve independent companies with a small number of employees. The amount of health and safety support provided to the franchisees will vary. However working practices and equipment are likely to be similar. Such franchisees come within SIC 53200 and are enforced by HSE.

10. Some companies work with owner-drivers. The amount of health & safety influence exercised by the parcel carriage business over such self-employed persons will vary. The use of owner-drivers should not affect the allocation of parcel carrier's premises to HSE.

11. There will be many cases where a cursory look can suggest that a courier's premises are simply warehouses, especially because often the big bursts of activity take place out of normal daily working hours. Discussion with the Enforcement Liaison Officer (ELO) may help resolve any confusion and help assess whether a local transfer under Reg. 5 of the Enforcing Authority Regulations is merited.

Date first issued: 10 May 2004

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Updated 2020-12-15