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RTITB clarifies HSE guidance on forklift training and Covid 19

Laura Nelson

RTITB has sought clarity from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regarding its guidance around lift truck training and Covid-19, following the recent announcements about the new virus strain in the UK and implementation of Tier/Level 4 areas.

“Although Covid-19 presents new and different concerns for logistics and supply chain businesses, lift truck operations are by their very nature risky,” explains Laura Nelson, Managing Director for RTITB. “It is therefore important to balance the full spectrum of risks, managing training safely and looking at ways to improve and maintain safety, such as through eLearning.”

The HSE’s statement confirms that ‘It remains the employer’s responsibility to not allow anyone to operate lift trucks on any premises without authorisation.  Authorisation should only be given where employees have completed suitable training’ in line with the HSE Approved Code of Practice (L117) Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use. and have achieved an appropriate level of operating ability.

RTITB recommends that employers and training providers take note of the following key points of guidance from the HSE statement during this period.

Consider whether the training needs to be done

‘Based on their own assessment of drivers’ competence and experience’, employers should reduce unnecessary training. For example, checking if there are other staff with the appropriate training who could carry out the tasks on a short-term basis.

The HSE reminds that ‘There is no specific time period in law after which refresher training or a formal assessment is required. However, employers may decide that automatic refresher training or a retest after a set period (for example 3-5 years) is the best way to make sure staff remain competent’.

To reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, ‘employers and training providers should apply the hierarchy of control to manage the risks of training’.

Infection control measures

Operations should continue to mitigate risk with infection transmission controls such as checking that no one involved in training is exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms and minimising ‘touch points and shared contact surfaces, such as pens, pointers, or touch screens’. Also ensuring access to hand washing facilities and that hand washing is carried out at regular intervals.

Employers and training providers must put systems in place to maintain social distancing, and in the case of training delivery ‘This may mean reducing class size where suitable distancing cannot be maintained otherwise, sanitising shared surfaces such as equipment controls between users, providing fresh air ventilation wherever possible by opening windows or doors. Mechanical ventilation should not be set to air recirculation mode’.

The HSE also states that ‘face coverings are not PPE and should not be used as a substitute for suitable risk control measures.

Consider alternative learning methods

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, ‘Employers are required to ensure that their workers are trained and competent to operate any industrial lift truck equipment they use.’  The HSE confirms that even experienced operators may need to be ‘retested or given refresher training to make sure they continue to operate lift trucks safely.’

Workers in a Tier 4 area engaged in necessary training activities may travel. However, the HSE encourages that face to face work is minimised wherever possible. Therefore, in the case of training, they recommend ‘Considering use of alternative learning methods such as e-learning or webinars where practicable.’

“It is unlikely that the workplace will be ‘returning to normal’ anytime soon, so we encourage employers to put plans and processes in place now to be in the best position to keep operations running throughout 2021,” says Laura Nelson. “A great number of e-learning solutions are available from RTITB partners to assist during this period.”

For more information on eLearning for novice lift truck operators and refresher training, contact the RTITB team on +(44)1952 520236 or email .

Read full HSE statement