Could you be breaking the law?
It's a situation that's quite understandable, say the FLTA and BITA (the two trade associations for the industry), given the complexities of the legislation, the detail of the inspection procedures and the potential for variation in both the approach and standards required by different examiners. That's exactly why they recently joined forces as Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS), in consultation with the HSE, to set up an accredited Thorough Examination scheme on the industry's behalf.
"We can't put figures on it at the moment," says CFTS Chairman Richard Baxter, "but it's clear from our conversations with truck users that a lot of people out there have very little knowledge of what Thorough Examination is all about ... and, even more worryingly, many of them don't know they have responsibilities in relation to it." According to CFTS, there are many urban myths concerning the testing of forklift trucks, three of the most common being:
"Our trucks are on long-term contract hire and the rental company takes care of all that sort of thing." WRONG. CFTS says: If you acquire trucks on long-term hire, for periods of a year or more, you are responsible for obtaining Thorough Examinations.
"We only hire trucks on a very short-term basis. Thorough Examination has nothing to do with us." WRONG. CFTS says: Although the rental company is required by law to have these examinations carried out, are you sure that it has complied? You will be breaking the law, as well as the rental company, if you are found operating a truck that doesn't have a Report of Thorough Examination--so insist on seeing it.
"Our trucks are regularly serviced, so we don't need it." WRONG. CFTS says: Servicing is not the same thing as Thorough Examination. To use a motoring analogy, a Thorough Examination is like an MOT. Just as your car needs servicing and MOT testing, your fork lift needs servicing and Thorough Examination.
When it comes to knowledge of how often Thorough Examination is needed for different trucks, applications and attachments, and when the first examination should take place, many users are equally vague.
As for what it covers (each element needing to be inspected individually) and how it should be carried out, lack of awareness among users makes it unlikely that poor standards of examination will be spotted before they can result in accidents, prosecutions and compensation claims.
"The way we see it, choosing the best Thorough Examination should be an integral part of risk assessment and reduction," explains Richard Baxter. "That means using a scheme which has proper documentation and is carried out with genuine rigour. Typically that can take between one and two hours. Yet we are aware that some so-called Thorough Examinations are being completed in less than half an hour!
"That simply isn't possible--and in the climate of increased accountability, company directors need to be aware of the implications. Indeed, it was to provide a nationally agreed, comprehensive and robust procedure that the CFTS scheme was developed with the help of the HSE.
"Before being able to deliver the CFTS scheme, a company must achieve accreditation by demonstrating its ability to meet stringent criteria and agree to abide by a strict code of practice. The "fork lift tick" logo on the truck stickers and documentation that go with the scheme can only be used by accredited companies and are an outward sign that the highest standards have been applied."
Contact CFTS on tel: 01628 475600 or visit www.thoroughexamination.org
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|Title Annotation:||INFORMALIA; suggestions for maintance of trucks|
|Publication:||Food Trade Review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2005|
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