What is Appropriate Forklift Training?

The UK Material Handling Association (UKMHA) is currently running a Safety Drive 2021 campaign and is committed to sharing the latest innovations and good practice in the industry. This week’s focus is on TRAINING. UKMHA was formed recently with the merger between British Industrial Trucks Association (BITA) and the Forklift Truck Association (FLTA).

Refresher Training for Forklift Truck Drivers

To learn more, read our blog entitled “Launch of UK Material Handling Association”. Following the training theme, we look at what is adequate training for forklift truck operator.

Forklift Truck Operator Training

The employers have a legal obligation to adequately train all the operators using material handling equipment such as forklift trucks. Trained operators have fewer accidents, are less likely to damage the equipment and improve performance and increase productivity. However the key question is what is adequate forklift training?

Adequate Forklift Training

If you want to drive a car or a lorry, you get an appropriate licence.  However, for a forklift truck, officially there is no licence. The certificate you get from the forklift training provider is often referred to as a licence but you must ensure that the training provider is accredited by an appropriate organisation like RTITB.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Forklift Truck Code of practice for operators (L117), advices that all forklift truck operators must go through:

  • Basic Training
  • Specific Job Training
  • Familiarisation Training

Basic Training

Basic training should cover all the skills and knowledge needed to safely operate the type of forklift truck and handling attachments (if any) the trainee will use. The Basic Training should include awareness of the risks from lift-truck operation. It should take place ‘off the job’, without the pressures of production.

Specific Job Training

After completing basic training, the forklift operator should be trained on an actual truck, loads and site from where he will be operating. Specific Job Training should include knowledge and understanding of the operating principles and controls of the forklift truck to be used, especially relating to handling attachments and loads specific to the job and routine inspection and servicing of that truck, in accordance with the operator’s handbook or manufacturer’s instruction. The forklift truck operator should be trained in conditions he will meet at work such as gangways, loading bays, racking, lifts, automatic doors, confined areas, cold stores, slopes, rough terrain, loading platforms, other vehicles, and bad weather. Instruction on  site rules like site layout, one-way systems, speed limits, general emergency procedures, eye and hearing protection, work near excavations and overhead lines, and other hazards. Training should include all work to be carried out like loading particular types of vehicle with loads normally found at that workplace, using the forklift truck fitted with working platforms where appropriate, safe systems of work, which should include custody arrangements for the keys.

Familiarisation Training

Familiarisation training is the third stage of forklift training, which should be carried out on the job, under close supervision, by someone with appropriate knowledge. This could include applying under normal working conditions, the skills already learned in basic and specific training, starting with simple tasks and moving on to more complex ones and becoming familiar with the forklift-truck activities of the employer. It should also include familiarisation with the site layout, local emergency procedures and any other feature of the work which it is not practicable to teach off the job.

Refresher training

Regular refresher forklift training will ensure operators maintain good driving habits, learn new skills where appropriate and reassess their abilities. Refresher training or retesting might also be appropriate where operators have not used forklift 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. There is no specific time period after which you need to provide refresher training or formal assessment. However, you may decide that automatic refresher training or re-certification after a set period of time is the best way to make sure employees stay competent. RTITB recommend re-certification every 3 years. Often the forklift training provider specifies how often you should take refresher training. Whatever approach you adopt for refresher training, you will still need to monitor performance in case operators need extra training before the set period ends.

Only after the employees have successfully completed all three elements of training, the employer should give a written authorisation to operate the forklift truck that you have been trained to use.

Wallace School of Transport is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years’ experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.

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