Forklift legislation

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Thorough Inspections for forklift trucks

thorough inspections

If you own or operate a fork lift truck, you have a legal obligation to ensure that it holds a valid Report of Thorough Examination This applies whether you own, lease or hire the truck. Failing to comply could be disastrous: prosecution, invalidation of your insurance or, worst of all, a serious accident due to faulty equipment. The materials handling industry has an accredited national scheme. The British Industrial Truck Association, (BITA), in conjunction with the Fork Lift Truck Association, (FLTA), has created Consolidated Fork Truck Services, (CFTS) to oversee and manage a national scheme for thorough examinations for fork lift trucks.

It is a requirement of the LOLER and PUWER legislation that fork lifts are subjected to an annual inspection in much the same way as an MOT is a legal requirement for cars. To make matters more confusing, the checks required by the two different statutes are different. As an example, it would be wrong to assume that someone who has checked the lift chains has also checked the brakes!

Why use the fork lift truck industry accredited scheme?

To understand the significance of a scheme that's truly nationwide, it's worth comparing the testing of fork lift trucks with the MOT for cars. Imagine what it would be like if there were no cohesive national system for assessing the safe condition of cars. Imagine if garages were allowed to decide for themselves how to carry out MOT tests. Imagine if an MOT certificate issued by one garage was based on criteria and practices which differed widely from those used by another. Imagine if there was no one to oversee the process nationally and ensure consistent high standards.

This is very much like the situation which applies to Thorough Examination - in many ways the fork lift truck's equivalent to an MOT.

The scheme - described as the biggest safety advance in many years - has been developed co-operatively by the two leading bodies in the fork lift truck industry: British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) under the banner of Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS).

The Thorough Examination is required under Health and Safety Legislation; LOLER 98, which covers lifting regulations, whilst Inspections under PUWER 98, deal with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres.

If you own a fork lift truck you must have it inspected annually and subjected to a thorough examination. Please note that this is not the same as an engineer's normal visit or a pre shift check done by someone on site. If you hire a truck the law applies to you too so you must insist on seeing the vehicle's records to make sure a thorough examination has taken place and is still valid.

BITA have produced a guidance note on this subject number GN29. This explains that competent persons carrying out thorough examination and safety inspections should meet the requirements of BS EN ISO 17020:2004.

Once the examination is completed you will receive:

  • A Report of Thorough Examination complying fully with LOLER 98
  • A checklist specifying what has been checked and recording any comments made
  • A certificate to keep with the truck’s documents
  • A sticker, affixed to the truck, to show the month and year when the next Thorough Examination will be due.

You can contact BITA at 5-7 High Street, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 9NQ. Tel: 01344 623800 Fax: 01344 291197. Email

For a list of accredited companies visit the thorough examination web site here