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When considering fork lift training bear in mind that, in theory anyone can train someone to drive a forklift truck. After all, it's just like a car isn't it?
The problem is that, although anyone can train someone else, it is very likely that the company who arranged for this to happen would leave themselves open to a prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act, section 2 (c) and regulation 9 of PUWER in the event of an accident.
The act states that employers must take all reasonable practicable steps to ensure that employees are safe and that training has been carried out. By utilising another forklift truck driver to conduct the forklift training, (which is still practiced by some employers), a company runs the risk that the experienced forklift operator will either teach the newcomer bad habits or will fail to teach them important safety facts.
In addition, the Approved Code of Practice for the training of forklift operators has been around since April 1989 and this too emphasizes the need for proper forklift training to be carried out and also details the three stages of forklift operator training.
Accreditation of training
It is for this reason that an accreditation scheme exists. The accrediting bodies do their best to make sure that the forklift training companies who are accredited do actually conduct the training correctly. They lay down minimum course durations, they dictate what is taught and they invented both the written and practical tests. They also monitor forklift training companies to make sure the training is being done correctly and suitable records are being kept.
In addition to the above, the Accrediting Bodies Association produces a complete list of different types of forklift truck groups and to go with this, RTITB produce trainers guides for each individual type. Nowadays, the group of truck has to be shown on the practical test marking sheet so it's important that instructors familiarise themselves with the groupings.
If you are responsible for arranging training you should keep in mind the above and make use of the accrediting bodies to make sure that your forklift training is being carried out to the correct standards. Be especially aware of anyone offering a one day course. One day is OK for re-tests with a maximum of three people attending. It is NOT allowed under ANY other circumstance. There are still some "cowboy" forklift training companies around so let the buyer beware! Also watch out for the famous "forklift licence", there is no such thing!
Re-training of forklift operators
I often get asked about re-tests: i.e. are they mandatory and after how long? The 2005 Workplace Transport Regulations states that they are mandatory and the NORS system allows for forklift operators to be re-tested every three years in order to renew their forklift qualification. RTITB will write to a trainee at their home address when re-training is due to advise them and remind them who trained them. In addition, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations calls for refresher forklift operator training.
It is not possible to say that refresher courses MUST be done after three years as the time frame is not laid down in any legislation. What can be stated is that, following an accident, an investigating officer would want to know how long it had been since forklift training had been conducted and if it was too long it could influence the prosecution case. An example of a training record is here
Information on the history of forklift operator training in the UK can be found on these pages.
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