Although forklift accidents are common, many of them can be easily avoided with the right training and maintenance. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires the employer to take steps that will protect the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. If you run a lift truck business, this article will lay out exactly how you should go about doing so.
Since there is no formal licensing authority for forklift drivers, there is no such thing as a “forklift driver’s license”. However, forklift operators do need formal training and certification, and it is the employer’s legal responsibility to provide this. Depending on the training centre, training typically lasts 3-5 days. The time it takes will vary according to your previous experience e.g.:
- 5-day training: this would be required for new operators with no prior experience.
- 3-day training: if you have had prior experience operating a forklift in some way but have no formal training, 3-day training will likely be suggested.
- 1-day training: if you are an experienced operator who has already been certified, you would be given a one-day refresher course to keep your certification current.
Every forklift operator must be fully licensed and trained in order to carry out their job safely. It is also the employer’s responsibility to provide refresher training courses, whereby your employees are re-tested every two to three years.
Daily Pre-use Checks
Every training course will emphasise the importance of forklift inspections before they are used each day. These vehicles should be methodically inspected for any signs of damage or faults that could cause a potential accident. Pre-use checks should cover:
- Tyre pressure
- Parking and service brakes
- Lifting and tilting systems
- Fuel, oil and water systems
Any defects must be immediately reported to the supervisor on duty. Many businesses have a registration system that will record the results of every inspection, as keeping proper documentation will demonstrate that you are being proactive in ensuring the safety of your employees.
Just like an MOT, it is a legal requirement for your forklift to undergo a thorough check at least once a year. In terms of what you can do yourself to avoid this check revealing any serious faults, making sure all moving parts in your forklift are well lubricated is a good start. This will ensure that these fittings avoid the harmful effects of friction.
Many accidents are the result of poor maintenance, and so the importance of these checks cannot be understated. As an added bonus, when you catch problems early or prevent them altogether, you will forego more expensive and extensive repairs.