If you are hiring a forklift truck to load and unload goods or transport materials around a site, there are some regulations and safety tips it is important to know about. Much good advice can be found over at the Forklift Truck Association (FTA) website, but here are some useful points to bear in mind.

Do you need a licence to operate a forklift truck?

A licence isn’t essential to operate a forklift truck, (unless you wish to drive it on the highway, in which case a full UK driving licence is required) but there are other requirements to be met.

The operator must have up to date training

It is a legal requirement that employers ensure forklift truck drivers have completed the required training with a suitably qualified instructor. Refresher training is recommended every 3-5 years, but is not obligatory.

The HSE states that: ‘Employers should not allow anyone to operate, even on a very occasional basis, lift trucks within the scope of [the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP)] who have not satisfactorily completed basic training and testing as described in this ACOP, except for those undergoing such training under adequate supervision.’

What does training include?

Training includes three stages. Firstly, basic training should include the skills and knowledge needed to operate the type of truck in question. The trainee should be fully aware of all the risks of operating the truck, and associated tasks, including the hazards of refuelling.

Specific job training should be tailored to the particular tasks that will be carried out. The operator should know how to make a routine inspection of the vehicle and be aware of any servicing needs. They should know how to operate the truck in the conditions of the job; gangways, loading bays, confined areas, bad weather, rough terrain, and so on.

The trainee should be familiar with the site rules, including layout, one-way systems, speed limits, emergency procedures, use of protective clothing and equipment, work near excavations and overhead lines, pedestrian awareness, and any other hazards.

Training must be given in the loading and handling of materials normally encountered in the workplace, weight assessment of loads, and using a lift truck fitted with work platforms if this is going to be part of the job.

The third stage of the training is known as familiarisation training and it should be carried out on the job under close supervision. The operator should apply under normal working conditions the skills they have learnt so far. They should start with simple tasks and then move on to more complex ones later.

Minimum age

The minimum age for operators is 16 years old, which is the youngest age a person can leave school in the UK. If the truck is being used in a port, the operator must be at least 18 years old. Anyone under 16 years old should not be employed in a factory, construction site, and so on unless they are on a work experience scheme.

Risk assessment

If a young person between the ages of 16 and 18 is going to be operating the truck, regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) states that employers must make a ‘a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees’ in regard to the risks they are exposed to through work.

Before a person under 18 years of age starts work, the employer should take into account the person’s level of physical and mental maturity, experience, and awareness of risks. This is because a young person will probably not have the same range of skills and abilities to make informed decisions as an older employee.

The person under 18 must be deemed mature and competent, and have completed the necessary training. They must be adequately supervised, and reasonable control measures must be taken to mitigate risks.

Health and fitness

Anyone operating a forklift truck must be able to demonstrate a reasonable standard of mental and physical fitness. At no time should a person under the influence of alcohol, recreational drugs, or certain medications that affect mental or physical function be allowed to operate heavy lifting machinery.

A forklift truck operator should have no disabilities that could pose a threat to the safety of others while they are operating the truck. People with disabilities are not excluded from operating a forklift truck, but the situation should be judged on an individual basis.

A full risk assessment should be made to identify any hazards, and reasonable adjustments to work equipment should be made, and medical advice should be sought where necessary.

For forklift hire in South London, please get in touch today.