RTITB and SUMO Glove held the first, highly successful, 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. In that year 80,000 operators were invited to enter the competition.

Building on that initial success, the 2011 competition was open to more than 250,000 operators. Entries closed at the end of February and hundreds of qualified operators entered the competition and took the online skill test. The greatest number of entries came from the Midlands and Southern England Region.

Since entries closed, RTITB staff have been busy phoning all the shortlisted competitors. The top 12 successful entrants, in each region, (Northern England, Midlands & Southern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) will compete in their respective National Finals between April and June 2011. The winner and runner up, of each National Final, will go forward to the Grand Final held at RTITB’s headquarters in Shropshire, this will be followed by a gala dinner and awards show at the ‘4 Star’ Telford Golf and Spa, Shropshire on the 16th September 2011.

Laura Nelson, Operations Director at RTITB, says: “Telephoning the successful entrants has been really rewarding, without exception the successful operators have been excited to reach the next stage and keen to demonstrate their skills. I’m looking forward to announcing not only the successful operators to the industry but also the training organisations and employers associated with the operators. Everyone involved hopes the competition will give the industry something positive to focus on over the coming months.”

Backed by the industry

The UK’s leading trade association for forklift truck manufacturers and suppliers, BITA, plays an active role in the promotion of health and safety and wholly supports the RTITB SUMO Glove 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.”

Given the size of the LTO competition, sponsorship is playing an increasingly vital role. RTITB are pleased to announce that TNT and Toyota have been confirmed as Platinum Sponsors for the event. Both are a natural fit – being safety conscious organisations already accredited by RTITB.

Winning is life changing

The 2008 Competition winner was Kenneth Saward, trained by DLT Training Limited. Kenneth says, “Winning the competition has changed my life and I was thankful for the opportunity to take part, let alone win. 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. In the live heats 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. Competitions like this are of real value: forklift drivers are needed everywhere and the standard of training needs to be consistent nationwide.”

National and Grand Finals

Attendance, at any of the finals, is free and open to the public, business and training organizations – where attendees can enjoy a day of watching the live testing of the UK and Irelands best counterbalance operators.

There will also be numerous organisations exhibiting their products and services. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be presenting all of the prizes:

• Northern England Final in Castleford – 20th April 2011

• Scottish National Final in Glasgow – 4th May 2011

• Irish National Final in Dublin – 18th May 2011

• Welsh National Final in Bridgend – 1st June 2011

• Midlands & Southern England National Final in Tamworth – 15th June 2011

• Grand Final – 16 September 2011

To register attendance, please visit www.rtitb.co.uk/fltcompetition and fill in the online form.

So who has made it through? Which operators, training organisations and employers are the best of the best? Watch this space: RTITB will be announcing all the National Finalists shortly.

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