From the 1st September, anyone training as a fork lift truck operator will have found the test considerably tougher than before. Dave Sparrow, MD of accrediting body AITT believes the change is very welcome.
Developed in conjunction with training organisations, trade associations, insurers, unions, lift truck manufacturers and employers, the testing standard created by the ABA reflects the modern working environment and the needs of industry.
Importantly, it specifically targets habitual bad practice. Those repeatedly committing the same safety-related fault will fail the test’s practical element and require further training. Changes to the regime will affect four aspects of the test:
• Pre-shift and daily checks: Elements of the pre-inspection will now be mandatory. This was not the case previously.
• Heavier penalties: Certain serious faults will now carry penalties of five points. If a candidate incurs more than three fivepoint penalties in any one category, it will be an automatic fail.
• Tougher scoring: Increases in penalty points from three to five make it easier to accrue more than 40 penalty points, and, therefore, fail the test.
• Theory: The number of questions is unchanged but there are now four multiple-choice answers, rather than three. Five of the questions are mandatory and must always be included. In the 20 multiple-choice questions, ten must be safety related and ten must be operational.
Toughening up the test is only part of the solution though. There is a vital role for senior staff to ensure that they properly understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to forklift operations… and manage them assiduously. Take a look in the mirror… Do you have any responsibility for managing FLT operations? If so have you read, digested and acted upon the all-important HSE document: L117 Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use (the Approved Code of Practice)? Have you, or your colleagues attended a course on supervising FLT operations? How many of your employees who work alongside forklifts – those usually least informed and the most vulnerable – have attended appropriate FLT awareness courses?
Similarly, how often does your company carry out risk assessments to define what your requirements are when it comes to refresher training? AITT can help you determine how often that is required (rather than simply opting for a catch-all 3 to 5 years regime).
If we are to make a truly profound improvement, we need the buy-in of management and a commitment to wellinformed and structured supervision and a company-wide safety culture.