Forklifts – Frequently Asked Questions
Due to the inherent hazards of forklift truck operation, it is essential that employees operating these devices in the workplace have proper training in the safe operation of such machinery. Whilst there is no actual forklift licence, accredited training is required in order to comply with an employer’s obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).
What certification is required under the act?
Despite the lack of a formal licence, employees using forklifts have to receive ‘adequate information instruction and training’ by law. It ultimately rests with the employer to decide how much training is adequate; however, it is recommended that the instructor providing the training is registered with an accrediting body, such as RTITB or ITSSAR.
How long does the certification last?
There is no specific time limit, but employers have to show that employees have received sufficient refresher training to be compliant with Health and Safety law. In any case, it is recommended by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) that refresher training is undertaken at ‘reasonable intervals’. Most training organisations recommend that the period between refresher courses does not exceed 3 years.
Once training is undertaken, are employees safe to use any equipment?
Whilst accredited training certificates will show the type of machine used for training, employees are then trained for any machine in
that category. There are three categories: B1 (up to 5,000kgs), B2 (5,000 to 15,000kgs) and B3 (over 15,000kgs), and training must be provided for machines in each category.
However, employers should provide training on the specific type of machine that the employee will be using, plus additional training on any attachments or specific equipment fitted to the machine.
It is mandatory that training is specific to the type of machine that is in use. For instance, employees using counterbalance trucks, order pickers or reach trucks should be certified for that particular type of truck.
Can forklifts be used on the public road?
This is a grey area under law. Legislation states that the machines must be used in the ‘immediate vicinity’ of the works premises, and this means that the truck may be used within 1,000 yards of the premises for the execution of necessary duties.
It is mandatory that the equipment is registered as a ‘works vehicle’ with the DVLA, and the insurers should be notified of use on the road. Machinery should be in sound condition, and fitted with lights if used during the hours of darkness.
Are forklift operators required to wear seatbelts?
Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), all new forklifts must be equipped with restraints of there is significant risk of overturning.
PUWER also requires that employers undertake a risk assessment for the use of forklifts including the risk of operators being trapped under machinery. Employers must then take reasonable steps to prevent accidents, so the easiest route to compliance is to make use of restraints mandatory.
What medical standards are required for operators?
Whilst there are no specific guidelines, the advice of a GP should be sought for people with medical conditions that may affect safety or those working in adverse weather.
Broadly speaking, anyone who is safe to undertake training may operate a forklift, but certification may be refused if any medical condition significantly affects safety.