Forklift safety inspections: Are you at risk?

Forklift safety inspections: Are you at risk?

Chairman | CFTS

Every logistics or transport manager worth their salt knows exactly how their HGVs and PSVs are inspected and maintained. But the truth is, it’s the lift truck in your fleet that is far more likely to be involved in a life-changing accident… and have its inspection regime questioned by the HSE.
 
Legislation
Fork lift trucks are not subject to an MOT, as HGVs are, but they do require a Thorough Examination under both LOLER and PUWER regulations. While legislation demands Thorough Examination for lifting equipment at routine intervals (at least once every 12 months), the laws governing it leave some room for interpretation.  
 
Compliance has never been so tough for managers and supervisors, thanks to the introduction of Fee for Intervention (FFI), the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, and the updated Approved Code of Practice (L117).  
 
With non-compliance costs higher than ever before, it’s vital that those most at risk are aware and informed. The importance of carrying out this examination to the highest standard is critical to the industry and all those working in it. 
 
At CFTS, we believe that the lack of clarity surrounding how forklift examinations are carried out and documented can leave managers confused and employees at risk.  
 
The scale of the problem
At the National Fork Lift Safety Convention in September, the HSE revealed there are approximately 1,300 serious forklift accidents each year in the UK. That’s 50 per cent more than HGVs (and five people suffering life-changing injuries every working day).
 
Ironically, satisfying your forklift Thorough Examination duties is actually far easier than it is for HGV inspections. While HGVs need to undergo an annual MOT and formal programme of PUWER safety checks, CFTS Thorough Examinations meet LOLER and PUWER requirements in a single, quality-assured process. 
 
But, that’s not all. Because CFTS Thorough Examinations are carried out by knowledgeable and experienced lift truck engineers, any faults identified can be fixed there and then. Unlike HGVs, there’s no waiting around for a retest, like you would with an HGV. This means fewer disruptions for employers and lower maintenance costs, too... consistently. 
 
The quality-controlled procedure for Thorough Examination that CFTS-accredited companies follow ensures that your equipment will undergo the same scope of inspection every time.  
 
From time to time, we hear stories that these vital and complex safety checks are completed in as little as 15 minutes. Typically, it should take more than 45 minutes for a 1.5 tonne three-wheel electric. 
 
As a truck’s complexity increases, so does its inspection. A conventional telehandler, for example, might take three hours to inspect properly. One reason why our Thorough Examinations take longer is that examiners must follow a quality-controlled process which requires performing accurate physical examinations on key components.
 
Your forklift truck’s chains, for example, are a vital component of the lifting mechanism. That’s why every CFTS examiner is required to use an accurate self-calibrating chain gauge which precisely judges wear and tear… and these results can be replicated. 
 
CFTS examiners also carry equipment essential for inspecting other parts of the truck, such as a jack for checking the brakes and steering and A-frame ladders or similar to inspect chain wear at the top of the mast where it passes over the rollers – arguably the most crucial area for wear and faults.
 
Peace of mind
A poor choice of Thorough Examination provider could result in a heavy fine, a Health and Safety Executive FFI (Fee for Intervention), or even a horrific accident and prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act. It certainly isn’t something that can be rushed or compromised. CFTS is a national standard for Thorough Examinations in the UK fork lift truck industry. For details, or to find your closest CFTS examiner, please visit: www.thoroughexamination.org.
 
 
Thorough Examination: Whose responsibility?
When a forklift truck is owned outright, responsibility for its Thorough Examination is straightforward. But what about when it’s on hire or lease?
 
Under Health and Safety legislation, the employer of the forklift truck operator has a duty of care to ensure the equipment is safe, as per the Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as is reasonably practical, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
 
Where the employer is also the outright owner of the truck, the implication of this duty (in the light of LOLER 98 and PUWER 98) is clear: the employer must arrange a regular Thorough Examination schedule appropriate to the truck and its use.
 
If the truck is leased, or rented on a long-term basis (12 months or more), the responsibilities are the same as if it was owned outright, and the duty remains with the employer of the truck operator.
 
However, if the truck is provided on a short term basis (one day to one year) the rental company has responsibility for arranging Thorough Examination as its owner. But, the employer of the truck’s operator must still satisfy themselves that the truck carries a valid Thorough Examination – usually by insisting on having a copy of the Report of Thorough Examination included with the rental documentation.
 
In addition, the truck must have a valid Report of Thorough Examination whenever it leaves an owner’s undertaking – in effect, when it changes hands, or is transferred between companies, whether on a temporary or permanent basis.
 
To learn more about Thorough Examination, or to find the details of your nearest CFTS-accredited company, visit: www.thoroughexamination.org or call 07730 768668.