FAQs

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Please note every effort has been made to give good accurate honest answers to the frequently asked questions below but, FT4U cannot be held liable or responsible for any error we recommend that if you are in any doubt or in a dispute you should seek professional help (A solicitor for example)

If an operator has years of experience driving a forklift truck can they simply apply for a certificate?

No, to comply with Health and Safety regulations and for valid insurance the operator needs to complete an experienced operator driver trainer course.

I have lost my Licence, can I get another one?

The training company involved may supply a replacement certificate if requested but you should be aware that they do not have to. If you are registered with the NORS scheme you should contact the RTITB for information

At what age can a person complete a forklift training course?

For normal operations in a typical warehouse, operators must be 16 years or over. For specific work on dockyards they must be 18 or over.

What is a forklift licence?

There is no such thing as a licence to operate a fork lift! Many people refer to their certificate of basic training as a “licence” but this is not the case. The certificate that is issued to successful candidates after a training course is properly known as a “Certificate of Training” and is usually accepted as proof that the holder has attended an accredited training course and passed the fork lift test. Many people think it is like a car licence but this is not the case and never has been.

Do warehouse managers or supervisors need to be trained, even if they do not use a forklift?

Yes, PUWER Regulations 1998 state that “all persons who supervise or manage the use of work equipment have received adequate training for the purpose of Health & Safety”.

How often do I have to take a re-test for my forklift licence?

There is nothing laid down in law about this but the Approved Code of Practice states that “refresher training should be given”. This is further reinforced in the Workplace Transport Regulations (2005) which can be downloaded http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg136.htm

For this reason, many employers arrange for refresher training and re-testing at somewhere between 3 and 5 year intervals. In the event of an accident the authorities would want to know when the operators involved were last trained and if that was a very long time ago, a court may deem that it has been too long and that refresher training should have been given. This link to the HSE web site explains their position on refresher training www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/personnel/refreshertraining.htm

Do part-time operators need the same degree of training as full-time operator?

Training is essential for part-time operators of any type of lift truck. Legally they need the same type and amount of training as a full-time operator. Please refer to the course details listed on our course pages or call 0800 677 11 22

What is the small white card that I was given used for?

First, it is not proof of basic training as required by law. The legislation requires that companies give written authority for people to operate forklift trucks on their premises. Training companies often supply cards, which people tend to call “permits”, to facilitate them doing this. In addition, it’s easier to carry around than the larger A4 size certificate. If you are on the NORS register you will automatically get one of these cards

Do I legally have to train lift truck operators?

Yes. The legislation covering this is the Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974, and Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). In a nutshell this requires that every employer ensures that all persons who use forklift trucks, as well as those that supervise them, have received adequate training.

I passed my test on a small forklift truck bot now I want to drive a larger one. Do I have to take another test?

A difficult question which requires a little common sense to answer. If the new truck is only a little bigger than the one on which a person was trained and providing the control layout is not too different then the answer is normally yes. If in doubt it is advisable to arrange for a short course of conversion or familiarisation training to take place.

Does a training qualification to drive a particular type of lift truck mean that the operator can drive any type of truck?

Definitely not. Any employer who allows an operator to drive workplace transport for which they have not received proper training puts the operator and the company at risk. Conversion training, to enable operators to extend the range of forklift trucks they are qualified to drive, makes sound business sense for most companies. Please ask for details on what is involved. 0800 677 11 22

Can I take my forklift truck licence to another company to get a job?

Another difficult question which requires a little common sense to answer! The certificate of basic training is intended to be recognised as proof that a person has attended an approved course and passed the practical and written tests. For this reason most prospective employers will accept it as long as it is not too old. It should be noted that they don’t have to however. A person may have had in-house training, in a warehouse and then gain employment in a yard moving lengths of steel for example!

If in any doubt it is advisable to arrange for a short course of familiarisation training to take place.

Is it necessary to keep records for qualified and certificated operators in your employment?

Most certainly. FT4U provide a service to its customers maintaining records of training on their behalf for a minimum of five years.

Does a licence for a counterbalance forklift truck allow me to drive a reach truck?

No. You must take a further course of training and be tested on a reach truck. This is also true for any other sort of machine such as order picker, pallet truck etc.

When does a qualified operator’s certificate expire?

It doesn’t. This said it is increasingly common practise in British business to ensure that a company’s health and safety standards are maintained by providing continuous refresher training – typically every two, three or five years. Remedial training is recommended when an operator has caused an accident or near miss.

Can I use my forklift truck on a public highway?

In order to discover what action you need to take, you should be aware that the main consideration is whether the truck will travel more than 1000 yards on the public highway.

Obviously any truck that is used on any public highway should be registered with the DVLA and a V5 registration document will be issued to the current keeper. The “current keeper” is the person responsible for the vehicle and is not necessarily the legal owner. When a vehicle is sold or transferred the current keeper is under a legal obligation to notify the DVLA of the sale or transfer. The action to be taken depends upon the date that the truck was registered.

Do those who use pallet trucks need training?

Yes, not least so that the employer complies with PUWER regulations. (A laden powered pallet truck can often weigh more than double the weight of a car. Crushing accidents involving legs, feet and ankles are, sadly, commonplace).

I had a one day training course to get my certificate/licence. Is that OK?

There are two cases where a one day course would suffice. The first is for previously trained operators who are in need of refresher training. This would have a maximum of three persons attending.

The other occasion where one day would be sufficient is where one experienced operator is in need of formal training and testing. The RTITB approve a course of 7 hours duration for this type of candidate. All training should meet with the minimum accredited recommended training durations as described elsewhere on this site.

What determines the length of a workplace equipment training course?

This is determined by the subject areas stipulated by the training accreditation bodies and the PUWER regulations. Also, the delegate/trainer ratio and prior experience of the trainee will determine a course duration. To buy training that promises qualified operators in less than these times is both false economy and extremely high risk.

How long does it take to train a person who has never used a forklift truck before?

The standard novice course is 5 days in duration with 3 persons attending, 4 days for 2 persons and 3 days for just one person. All training should meet with the minimum accredited recommended training durations as described elsewhere on this site.

Is it compulsory to wear a seat belt when driving a forklift truck?

It depends on the type of truck and the application into which it is put. As a general rule, seatbelts must be worn on most counterbalanced forklift trucks.

In general terms seat belts will not be required where:

The truck has a high degree of stability making it unlikely that it could overturn when used in its normal operating environment for which it was designed. This would normally apply to all trucks with a capacity greater than 10 tons

The forklift truck is a masted truck that can only roll through 90 degrees and features on the truck prevent the operator being trapped between the truck and the ground. This would normally infer an enclosed cab with doors that cannot be held open or removed during routine operations

The operator sits sideways and gains access from the rear only. This applies to the majority of reach trucks

The truck has a stand – on operator

Trucks of greatest concern are those which may overturn and trap the operator between the truck and the ground or allow him/her to be thrown around in the cab as the truck overturns beyond 90 degrees.

Most counterbalanced trucks fall into this category. In order to comply with the regulations users should comply with the seat belt requirements and should seek advice from the local Factory Inspectorate if they are not sure of the requirements.

It is acknowledged that some older trucks cannot have restraints fitted and some, such as those with unsecured batteries, would become more dangerous if they were. This problem has been overcome by making the actual use of the equipment the determining factor. This means that a risk assessment is required for each task that the truck is likely to perform.

How long does it take to train a person who has never used a forklift truck before?

The standard novice course is 5 days in duration with 3 persons attending, 4 days for 2 persons and 3 days for just one person. All training should meet with the minimum accredited recommended training durations as described elsewhere on this site.

I have a lot of experience but no licence. How long will my course be?

An experienced untrained operator’s course is usually 2 or 3 days duration, depending upon the number attending the course.

How long is the course for a re-test?

One day with a maximum of 3 persons attending.

Does it help if I can already drive a car?

It helps to some extent, in as much as your perception of distances and the like will probably be better than a non-car driver. You should however, be aware that the rear wheel steering on a fork lift can actually cause confusion for car drivers!

Do I have any responsibilities as an operator under current health and safety legislation?

Yes. Under sections 7 and 8 of the Health and Safety at Work Act all employees are responsible for the health and safety of themselves and of other persons. In addition they have a legal duty to co-operate with the employer as far as health and safety is concerned. Employees can face court proceedings for a breach of Health and Safety rules.

What responsibilities in law does my employer have for my safety?

A large number of laws apply to employers the most important of which is the Health and safety at Work Act. Employers must take all steps which are “reasonable and practicable” to ensure the safety of their employees.

I have been driving trucks for a long time without an accident. Why should I be trained?

We all get “unlucky” from time to time. If you do have an accident your employer can be prosecuted for failing to provide adequate training. In addition over a period of time we tend to forget.

My instructor was from a place called ITSSAR. I thought the RTITB was the accrediting body?

There are a few accrediting bodies of which the RTITB is the most well-known because it was the first to exist back in 1972. ITSSAR is an accrediting body too and all such bodies should use the same training course content and the same test.

What is an accrediting body anyway?

All approved training companies must be registered with an accrediting body and have their courses approved by them. The HSE authorities recognise that training conducted by an accredited training company will normally be conducted to the highest standard although there are several “cowboy” training companies around who cut corners in order to reduce prices. These should obviously be avoided and you can phone the accrediting body to establish if the course you are being offered actually complies with requirements.

I had a near miss when I was driving my truck but no-one was injured. Do I have to report it?

Yes. You should report it to your immediate supervisor who will take the appropriate action. Under the RIDDOR regulations even “near misses” should be reported.

I am an in house instructor working for a company. Can I train forklift operators?

In theory yes but you must not claim that you are accredited to do this work. Since most companies are likely to require accredited training from an outside source it’s unlikely that you would be asked. You can of course, train at another branch of the company where you are employed.

Does an in house instructor need a refresher course?

Yes. After five years as a maximum but earlier is recommended if possible due to changes in legislation that occurs from time to time.

I have heard that the forklift test uses a 'penalty point' system. How does this work?

Every time you make a mistake during your test you incur penalty points. At the end of the test these are added together and you must not score more than 40 penalty points. 41 points is a failure!

Whose responsibility is it to check the forklift truck over and when should this be done?

Normally it is the operator’s job and this should be done either at the start of every working day or the start of each shift in multi-shift applications. Some companies have a different arrangement and if this is the case you should obviously comply with this.

Will I have to take a written test as well as a practical one?

Yes but don’t worry if English is not your first language. Just mention it to your instructor and you will be given the questions orally. Five questions require written answers and twenty are multiple choice. You have to get 80% to pass.

The test course my colleagues used recently looked a bit different to mine. Why is this?

Sometimes, because of obstructions and the like, the course cannot be built exactly as before and therefore you may not see a “mirror image” of it. The actual test however is the same.

I have to do things apart from stacking in racking. Do I need any further training in order to do this?

Yes. Your training is not fully completed until you have completed all three stages of training as described in the Approved Code of Practice.

I drive a 3 wheel truck and I have been told that 4 wheel trucks are more stable. Is this true?

No. because of the way trucks are tested for stability, 3 wheel trucks are just as stable as 4 wheelers. So long as you obey the rules taught in training they are perfectly stable.

How common are fork lift accidents? How many are there in a year?

Transport accidents are one of the most common types in industry and on average there are thousands of fork lift accidents with 12 fatal ones in the UK every year.

(It should be noted that in the year ending April 2013 there were only six fatal forklift accidents in the U.K. A record low).

What are the most common reasons for forklift truck accidents?

They are many and varied but two stand out, a lack of all-round observation and falling from height. Trucks overturning are easily the most scary and dangerous for the operator.

Do I need a medical before I operate a forklift truck?

Yes and you also should have regular check-ups when you reach the age of 45 and at certain other times.

The following is a quote from the Approved Code Of Practice applying to forklift truck operator training, (April 2013).

“The Drivers’ Medical Unit at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) publishes ‘At a glance: Guide to the current medical standards of fitness to drive’. This is aimed at health professionals and applies to lift trucks on the road, but can be applied to all work with lift trucks. For most work with lift trucks, a standard of fitness equivalent to that for the Group 1 entitlement (ordinary driving licence holders) would be appropriate. Activities such as working in a particularly demanding environment, working at night or moving highly toxic or explosive materials would probably be more appropriate to the Group 2 entitlement (heavy goods vehicle licence holders).

HSE is not prescriptive about the need for medical assessment for fitness to drive lift trucks and there is no legislation relating directly to this topic. However, you may choose to screen potential operators before placement and then follow the guidelines for Group 2 licences in ‘At a glance’ which require medical examination every five years from age 45, and every year from age 65 (in line with licence renewal periods). Always seek medical advice where there is any doubt about a person’s fitness to operate a lift truck”.

You can download a copy of this DVLA document and the amendments to it but please note that these should be interpreted by a medical practitioner.

Approved Code of Practice for forklift trucks 2013

The new edition of the Approved Code Of Practice for forklift truck operator training was published in March 2013 It was first published in April 1989 and was the first real attempt at “legalising” the training of Fork Lift Operators in the U.K. Training had existed as far back as 1972 when the so called “Red Book” was published by the Road Transport Industry Training Board. This contained a whole host of information to enable Instructors to train and test, lift truck operators effectively. At the same time the National Register of fork lift operator Instructors was set up by the RTITB. (Note: From April 2006 there is also a national register of fork lift operators. NORS).

Whilst many companies did carry out such training, others were under the impression that they did not have to although the need for this type of training has been stated in legislation since 1974. The publication of this ACOP had a dramatic effect on training in the U.K. since for the first time a quasi-legal document existed which could be used in court as proof that a person/company was in contravention of the Health and Safety At Work Act and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, (PUWER).

The ACOP also brought home for the first time the concept of three stages of training which to this day are still defined as follows:

  • Basic Training – A training course followed by a test
  • Specific Job Training – Knowledge of the workplace and handling attachments
  • Familiarisation training – Working on the job under close supervision

The second version of the Approved Code Of Practice was published by the Health and Safety Commission late in 1999 and there were changes compared to the old ACOP mainly to incorporate the new LOLER and PUWER legislation.

This third edition of the ACOP was published in March 2013 and it also incorporates most of the contents of the old publication “Safety in Working with Lift Trucks” (HSG6), which has now been scrapped. In the new version the most significant part relates to the training of managers and supervisors.

Anyone considering providing training for their employees in the UK should ensure that it is in accordance with this Approved Code Of Practice if they wish to make sure that they have complied with legislation so far as training of operators is concerned. Copies of this ACOP along with advice for employers and employees can be downloaded.

Do managers and supervisors need training?

Yes the Approved Code of Practice puts an emphasises on the training of managers and supervisors

Approved Code of Practice – supervisor training

The most significant change to the new Approved Code Of Practice is the added emphasis on the training of managers and supervisors. The ACOP states that supervisors should be sufficiently trained to identify any potential hazards occurring in everyday forklift truck usage. They should be able to:

  • Carry out effective observations and know what to look out for
  • Co-operate effectively with operators and managers
  • Recognise unsafe practices and behaviour
  • Maintain and promote health and safety standards

Whilst not required to qualify as forklift truck operators, managers and supervisors are legally responsible for ensuring everyday operations are carried out safely.

The ACOP states.

  • Think about the safe movement of lift trucks and loads as part of your overall safety policy
  • Reduce risk points where trucks might meet other traffic or pedestrians
  • Where possible prohibit pedestrians from lift truck operating areas
  • Ensure that everyone working in the area is properly trained and understand how to work properly, even the pedestrians
  • Members of the public should not be allowed in operating areas. Where this does need to happen there should be a written procedure outlining precautions
  • All operating areas should be suitably designed and maintained
  • Every truck should have a valid report of thorough examination
  • Pre shift checks should be completed by operators prior to each shift

Forklift trucks should not be operated outside their capabilities such as:

  • Carrying pedestrians
  • Handling loads outside their capacity
  • Being manoeuvred in a way that could cause them to tip over

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