Forklift training history

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The early days of forklift operator training

rear observation

The previous pages were written by John, (Dai), Carter and describe forklift operator training from the very beginning. The following four pages are based on my own recollections.

Forklift training started officially in the UK in 1969 when the then called Road Transport Industry Training Board or RTITB produced their famous "red book" on the subject. (Please see Dai Carter's excellent article about the very early days)

In the 1960s and early 1970s there were a number of industry training boards like the RTITB whose main purpose was to improve the training of staff in their various spheres of industry. Many of these were simply quangos, run at taxpayer’s expense. The RTITB however was destined to become the first accrediting body for forklift training in the country.

It was in 1972 that the RTITB updated the first ever guide to the training of forklift operators, popularly known as forklift training. This became affectionately known as the “red book” after the colour of this publication. At the same time the RTITB devised a practical and theoretical training syllabus along with a practical test course and marking sheet for forklift truck drivers based on the work done in 1969 by Dai carter and others.

Most of the aforementioned quangos have long since gone but the RTITB remains except that now it is a limited company known as RTITB services. Nowadays there are five accrediting bodies who are in turn controlled by the accrediting bodies association, although three of these only deal with rough terrain trucks and will be ignored for the purposes of this article.

In 1972, there was no actual legislation in the UK that insisted upon forklift truck drivers being trained although some of the bigger companies, such as those in the motor industry, did undertake some type of formal forklift training anyway. It was the advent of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974 which put this type of training onto a formalised footing with the inclusion of section 2 subsection ( c ) under the heading of “Employer’s duty”, which reads:

“The provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of all his employees”.

It was this paragraph that made  forklift training mandatory in law and this paragraph remains in force to this day along with other legislation introduced since.

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