New material handling equipment is designed to ensure productivity within the modern warehouse can be maximised. Latest generation lift trucks are fitted out with cutting edge technology to be the safest and most efficient available. However, despite the innovation there is still no room for complacency when it comes to good safety protocols, as David Goss, Technical Director, UK Material Handling Association (UKMHA) explains.

With the need to manage rising order volumes, lift truck manufacturers have been quick to respond to demands from warehouse operators for safe and more efficient machines.

However, a truck is only ever as safe as the operator using it. Therefore, all operators should be fully trained in the use of any truck they are likely to use and are aware of all its inherent safety features and what they do. In addition, all trucks, regardless of age, must always be safe to use. It remains obligatory for all trucks to undergo regular Thorough Examination. This is the name given to the mandatory inspection required by law to ensure that lifting equipment is in safe working order. It is roughly equivalent to the MOT for cars.

UKMHA recommends that all Thorough Examinations are completed by a CFTS-accredited Competent Person. The CFTS mark is a guarantee that a lift truck will be examined carefully, and that key components such as brakes and steering will also be checked along with the lifting mechanism.

All MHE must receive a Thorough Examination at least once a year. However, examinations could be required more often depending on the type of truck and the application.

The process is governed by regulations enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). These state that Thorough Examination of industrial lift trucks is required under LOLER 1998, which covers lifting equipment, and safety inspections of other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres, are required under PUWER 1998.

Regular inspections as part of a preventive maintenance scheme or scheduled service do not meet the legal requirements for a Thorough Examination. Thorough Examinations can only be conducted by people deemed competent, and these people are under a legal obligation to report dangerous defects to the authorities.

It is crucial that individual Thorough Examinations comprehensively cover both the lifting and the driving mechanisms of the truck, because not all of them do. Some examinations only cover LOLER, which could put equipment, operators and businesses at risk.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 gives every employer a duty of care to their employees and any truck that has not had its brakes, steering or structural integrity checked is not considered safe.

The latest GN28 guidance note, which is free to UKMHA members, incorporates several changes to previous guidelines, including clarification around the date of first examination, confirmation on requirements for lorry-mounted trucks, recommended intervals between examinations for attachments, and improved guidance on inspection and test criteria.

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David Goss

UKMHA, Technical Director

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