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Health & Safety and Fork Truck Training FAQ’s

We are only too happy to advise on any queries you may have regarding forklift training. We have compiled a list of the more commonly asked questions regarding Health & Safety and Fork Lift Training.

What is the minimum age at which a person can operate a fork lift truck?

Lift truck operators should be over the minimum school leaving age (17 years or over) except on docks/in ports where they must be at least 18 years old.

What licence is needed to operate mobile plant in the workplace?

The Law requires that each operator is given adequate training by their employer so that they are competent to operate the machinery which they use (the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998; regulation 9). There are no government issued licences for vehicles at work.

What are the legal requirements regarding employee training?

As an employer you have a general duty under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 employers are required to ‘ensure that all persons who use work equipment have receive adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risks which such use may entail and precautions to be taken’. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also place duties on employers to provide training. By not providing any training at all you could be breaking the law. Rider-operated lift trucks includes the requirements for basic lift-truck training.

What is the HSE’s position on wearing seat belts while driving lift trucks?

Since 2002, counterbalanced trucks, rough-terrain trucks and side-loading trucks, one side only, must be fitted with an operator restraining system (for example a seat belt). For older trucks which do not have one, you should fit a restraining system if the risk assessment indicates that there is a risk of the vehicle overturning and where the operator may be trapped between the truck and the ground. Where restraining systems are fitted they should be used. Where a restraining system cannot be fitted, and the risks are sufficiently high, it will be necessary to use another lift truck which has such a system. Any lift truck fitted with a roll-over protective structure (ROPS) to protect operators from the risk of injury resulting from 180° or more roll-over should be fitted with a restraining system.

What should training include?

Operator training should always include three stages:

• Basic training: the basic skills and knowledge required to operate a lift truck safely and efficiently.

• Specific job training: knowledge and understanding of the operating principles and controls of the lift truck to be used and how it will be used in their workplace.

• Familiarisation training: applying what has been learnt, under normal working conditions, on the job.

Basic and specific job training, which can be combined, should take place off the job (ie away from production and other pressures). Familiarisation training needs to be done on the job, under close supervision. See the Rider-operated lift trucks – L117 ACOP for more detail on what each stage involves.

Do Supervisors require training?

It is essential that supervisors have enough training and knowledge to recognise safe and unsafe practices. This does not mean they need full operator training, but they do need to understand the risks involved, and how to avoid or prevent them. Some organisations offer training courses for supervisors and managers of lift-truck operations. Supervisors should be able to:

• carry out an effective observation and know what to look for.

• communicate effectively with operators and line managers.

• recognise unsafe practice and behaviour.

• maintain and promote health and safety standards.

Why do I need Refresher training?

Regular refresher training will ensure operators:

• maintain good driving habits.

• learn new skills where appropriate.

• reassess their abilities.

Refresher training or re-testing might also be appropriate where operators:

• have not used trucks for some time;

• are occasional users.

• appear to have developed unsafe working practices.

• have had an accident or near miss.

• have changed their working practices or environment.

What monitoring and assessment is needed?

Lift-truck operators, even those who are trained and experienced, need to be routinely monitored in the workplace and, where necessary, retested or refresher trained to make sure they continue to operate lift trucks safely. You can identify the need for further training using a formal monitoring and assessment process, carried out by a suitably Instructor. This assessment should be formally recorded so as to ensure it is done at reasonable intervals. Where an operator fails this assessment, arrange further training for them. You may find it useful to record these assessments in operators’ personnel records.

When can Cages be used on lift trucks?

Working platforms or ‘cages’ on lift trucks are ‘non-integrated’, ie the lift-truck operator controls the movement of the truck including the cage. There are no controls in the cage to control the truck or cage movement. The use of non-integrated platforms for planned work is not allowed as there is other purpose-built access equipment, such as the wide variety of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), which are better suited to carrying out work at heights and are safer for the person using the platform. These are readily available for hire. HSE Guidance Note PM28 ‘Working platforms (non-integrated) on forklift trucks’ gives advice on the use of these and clarifies what the law says. It sets out the current standard for use of non-integrated platforms, ie for ‘occasional unplanned use’ only. PM28 also gives guidance on what ‘occasional unplanned use’ means. It clearly states that non-integrated platforms should only be used for work which is ‘exceptional’. Exceptional work would include unplanned work such as the changing of a single lightbulb as an emergency job. This definition does not include stocktaking or planned maintenance work such as cleaning the light fittings in a factory, window cleaning etc. For jobs like that a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) with integral controls, such as a scissor lift, should be used.

Use of trucks by non-employees.

Use of lift trucks by people other than employees is increasingly common. Typically this is done by visiting lorry drivers and service engineers. Employers and site controllers should cooperate to ensure that only adequately trained people operate lift trucks.

Private Training for Individuals

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