2010 was eventually a year for optimism and encouragement in the forklift industry, as predictions of steady growth were endorsed with an increase in order levels for new forklift trucks. From the depths of despair experienced in 2009 where orders were at their lowest point for nearly 30 years, we can report that 2010 has been a step in the right direction, albeit a modest one. We can also confirm that 2011 is set to continue in the same vein with a continuation of the steady recovery in economic conditions, so we look forward to developments with guarded optimism.

As we approach the year end we can now start to take stock and reflect on the first full year of life with the New Machinery Directive, which came into European law on 29 December 2009. BITA has seen wider understanding and support growing for the new Machinery Directive in the UK as the year has unfolded. It is still our belief, and that of the majority in the industry, that adopting a proactive stance towards the legislation is in the overall best interests of the industry, since only the highest standards are acceptable in assuring safety for people at work.

Preparation for the directive was key and our Guidance Notes GN28 and GN66, respectively revised and developed in 2009, were designed to assist companies in achieving full compliance with the new Machinery Directive. Our GN66 document includes guidance on how to deal with any industrial truck submitted for examination which is not CE marked.

BITA has been keen to emphasise the role that forklift owners and operators can play in to ensure that only safe products are placed on the European market. This process, known as market surveillance, is a high-level strategic objective for the Fédération Européenne de la Manutention (FEM), in which BITA plays an active role. At the FEM Congress in September, FEM made clear its determination to find ways of helping owners and operators judge for themselves whether their equipment is compliant with the Machinery Directive.

In the short term, FEM will start to issue simple, straightforward guides for owners and operators to perform their own market surveillance. These will be distributed to the industry by member organisations, such as BITA.

Finally, dispatches from 2010 would not be complete without mention of the annual BITA Golf Day, where the competitors, who were made up of BITA members and guests, took to the glorious Moor Hall Golf Course in Sutton Coldfield. A total of 46 golfers battled variable weather conditions and raised money for Bluebell Woods Children’s Hospice, a truly deserving charity based in North Aston.

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