Following the success of the first National Lift Truck Operator of the Year Competition in 2008, event organisers RTITB and Sumo Glove are uniting once again to stage a follow up event, due to go live in the New Year.

Set to be a major stimulus to the ongoing development of UK fork lift driver skills, the 2011 RTITB Sumo Glove Lift Truck Operator of the Year Competition will be formally launched at IMHX 2010 on Wednesday 17 November, on the RTITB stand, number N70 in Hall 18. 2008 Competition winner Ken Saward, who is now a qualified fork lift operator instructor as a direct result of his success, will also be on the stand to help start the ball rolling for 2011

Calling all operators

The 2011 RTITB & Sumo Glove Lift Truck Operator of the Year Competition is open to all eligible NORS operators. Entry is through an online hazard perception and theory test, which opens on 1st January 2011 and runs until 11th February.

The top 16 successful entrants from each region – Northern England, Southern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland – who emerge from the online stage will compete in their respective National Finals in spring 2011. The winner and runner up of each National Final will go forward to the Grand Final on 16 September 2011 at the 4 Star Telford Golf and Spa, owned by Q hotels. Jane Willis, HSE’s Director – Cross-cutting Interventions Directorate, will present the prizes.

Laura Nelson, Operations Director at RTITB, says: “Safe, efficient lift truck operators and operations are key to any successful warehouse, and we are very proud to be able to highlight the skills involved in these operations via the new competition. With over 250,000 operators currently registered on NORS, the sheer volume of potential entrants promises to make 2011 a bigger, more exciting venture than the 2008 event. All the organisers, sponsors, and competitors contribute to highlighting the RTITB accredited organisations and the excellent training that they provide to NORS registered operators.”

Simon Ross, Managing Director of Sumo Glove, comments: “With this competition, we set out to highlight the UK and Ireland’s fork lift operators who are often the forgotten heroes, and make a competition that will be remembered. I am very excited by the number of potential entrants available for the up and coming competition, and I would strongly urge anyone eligible to put themselves forward.”

RTITB and Sumo Glove are now looking for standards and safety conscientious organisations to get involved and sponsor this outstanding event. The National Operator of the Year Competition will provide such organisations with a unique opportunity to align themselves and their brand with a nationally recognised lift truck safety competition, seen by the industry as an innovative way to showcase effective training and pay respect to skilled operators and to obtain promotion and marketing of their products at rates which provide excellent value for money.

Backed by the industry

The leading UK fork truck industry body BITA plays an active role in the promotion of health and safety and wholly supports the RTITB SUMO Glove Lift Truck Operator of the Year competition. James Clark, BITA Secretary General, says, “The competition raises awareness of the need for regular accredited training and highlights its importance in raising safety standards.”

Media coverage plays a key part in spreading the message about the competition. As the industry’s only fortnightly title, Warehouse & Logistics News has been appointed the official media partner to the RTITB Sumo Glove Lift Truck Operator of the Year Competition.

Warehouse & Logistics News Publisher James Surridge comments: “We are very pleased to support this exciting initiative, which will help convey the crucial message that in today’s fast-moving, high pressure warehouse environment forklift safety is paramount, and proper operator training is essential to achieve it.

“This competition is a welcome development for the industry. It will play a key role in raising awareness and understanding of the value of forklift operating skills among operators, trainers and managers and highlight the need to keep these skills polished with regular training.”

Success first time round

RTITB and Sumo Glove held the first National Lift Truck Operator of the Year Competition in 2008 giving lift truck operators, their employers and their trainers the chance to showcase excellent training and operating skills. 80,000 operators were invited to enter the competition; the invited NORS-registered counterbalance operators scored highly on their initial basic operating skills test, and were further assessed by an on-line hazard perception and theory test.

From this the top scoring eight competitors from five regions around the UK and Ireland were selected to attend the regional finals held at Barloworld Handling Ltd, West Bromwich. From the demanding regional finals ten finalists emerged to compete for the title of Lift Truck Operator of the Year 2008 in the National Final, an all expenses paid opportunity for the competitors to once again showcase their skills whilst undertaking tests designed to challenge them at the highest level.

Following the National Final held at RTITB headquarters in Telford, Shropshire, the competitors, their partners, trainers, employers and industry representatives continued on to the spectacular Gala Dinner held at the Q Hotel, Telford Golf and Spa. Before presenting the prizes, Jane Willis, HSE’s Director – Cross-cutting Interventions Directorate gave a poignant speech highlighting the importance of training and safe operation and commending RTITB and Sumo Glove for raising awareness of this through the competition.

Winning changed Ken’s life

The 2008 Competition winner was Kenneth Saward, trained by DLT Training Limited. Second prize went to Steven Hall, trained and employed by TNT Express Services UK & Ireland. Kenneth says, “Winning the competition has changed my life and I was thankful for the opportunity to take part, let alone winning. It’s a great way to highlight the importance of being safe and for getting the recognition of operating safely and properly.

“I was self-employed when I won, and facing an uncertain future. My success led to me becoming an operator for a re-employment training charity in Cardiff, and I’m now a specialist fork lift driver with Eastern Valley Chemicals, Blaenavon.”

In his personal life, Ken says winning the competition came at a perfect time: “To say I was at a bit of a low back then is a massive understatement. My wife was having cancer treatment for the second time, and the competition gave me something positive to focus on. Best of all, I was able to give the prize car to my wife, which was great.”

Ken would like to take part in the 2011 Competition, but under the rules his newly acquired operator status rules him out. So what was it like taking part in the 2008 Competition?

“The online part involved hazard perception tests, which were very realistic and quite tricky, and you had to have your wits about you. In the live heats in the regional and national finals, the challenges were tough but fun, and made you pay attention to what you were doing.

“It’s easy for drivers to switch off during their shift, but the tests and the challenges in the Competition encourage you to use what you’ve been taught in your working life, and the standard of the competitors in the ‘live’ stage was very high. The Competition covers everything drivers need to know in terms of theory and pre-shift checks, but perhaps you could add more in terms of naming of parts and a few extra hazards in the test area. Competitions like this are of real value: forklift drivers are needed everywhere, and the standard of training needs to be consistent nationwide.”

RTITB – achieving efficiency, excellence & safety in the logistics industry

RTITB Ltd was incorporated in November 1998, and has been synonymous with the road freight and logistics industry for 40 years. RTITB is the UK’s largest lift truck training accrediting body and Ireland, recognised by the HSE, HSA and HSENI. Today RTITB accredits the training provided at over 600 training locations throughout the UK and Ireland and has a contact database of over 300,000, comprising lift truck operators, LGV drivers and instructors in a range of disciplines.

RTITB works with over 600 of the UK and Ireland’s best trainers, including TNT, Coca-Cola and Boots as well as quality SME’s. RTITB Accreditation is about providing the best service, the best support and upholding the highest standards. Its registration systems, NORS and MDRS provide flexible, affordable online certification schemes, with turnaround times second to none.

In 2003 RTITB established the RTITB Academy, investing over £1.25 million in setting up a fully equipped training centre located in Shropshire. RTITB has monitored the development and introduction of the Driver CPC Directive since the late 1990s, resulting in the introduction of Master Driver for CPC.

The Master Driver Consortium has a membership of 160 organisations covering over 200 locations and has already uploaded over 100,000 training hours to the DSA. RTITB aims to set standards in accreditation and raise the standard of training by modernising training materials and systems.

SUMO Glove – because fork truck safety comes first

SUMO Glove was born from a desire to reduce damage and improve upon health and safety in the workplace. The Glove itself was introduced to the UK business sector in 2008.

Made of industrial grade polyurethane, the SUMO Glove is bonded to the forks of the fork lift truck and replaces the hard steel with a material that has a unique cushioning effect, designed to greatly reduce product pallet and racking damage while enhancing safety without affecting the operating effectiveness of the truck.

RTITB Tel: 01952 520218 Email:

Sumo Glove Tel: 01344 622784 email:

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