Peter Harvey MBE is chief executive of the Fork Lift Truck Association.
In recent years, the UK has seen a significant rise in the number of trucks being sold which are not fit or suitable for purpose, potentially placing users at risk of accidents, prosecution and big repair bills.
While the Fork Lift Truck Association's more than 240 full members must adhere to a strict Code of Practice, ensuring honesty and integrity, the same, sadly, cannot be said of some other, less reputable companies.
At the FLTA, we regularly hear of customers being sold trucks which are not fit for purpose or are faulty, and even instances where important legal documentation supporting the sale has been falsified.
Let us be clear: such conduct is not just unscrupulous, it is illegal. Dodgy dealers put lives at risk by dishonestly selling such equipment.
This is where Fork Truck Watchdog comes in...
How it works
A joint endeavour involving the FLTA and the West Berkshire District Council, this initiative allows anyone who has been fraudulently sold a forklift to report the seller - regardless of where in the UK either seller or customer is based.
Acting impartially on the victim's behalf, the Watchdog will take criminal cases to Trading Standards for review. If they consider the complaint to be justified, action will be taken.
The industry bites back
A materials handling industry first, the sole purpose of the Fork Truck Watchdog is to track and, ultimately, eliminate forklift dealers who deliberately mislead, and thereby endanger, customers.
The joined-up, national approach means that there's nowhere to hide. Thanks to the Internet, some of these underhand enterprises sell all over the UK, so, until now, it was almost impossible to keep tabs on their activities. However, because the Watchdog operates nationally, it can identify patterns of bad practice by a single supplier, and track and build a case against them - wherever they operate.
In this way, we aim to make the forklift market safer for buyers and worksites across the UK safer for everyone on them.
Given the nature of this initiative, the more people that use it, the more effective it will be - so it's crucial that those buying 'dodgy' trucks voice their complaints via fork-truck.org.uk/watchdog
While Fork Truck Watchdog offers recourse for those who have been swindled, it's important that buyers are aware of the steps they can take to minimise risk when buying second-hand lifting equipment - namely, buying from reputable suppliers.
There is a great divide between, for instance, a bona fide truck dealer with a public-facing premises, and an online retailer who only offers products. The latter isn't backed by field service engineers, so when things go wrong, the customer is left in the lurch. What's more, they don't employ staff trained to conduct proper site surveys, ensuring trucks sold are suitable for the application.
While a bargain may be hard to resist, it's crucial that buyers consider the added value of buying with confidence, from an established, reputable dealer who can provide after-sales support.
All FLTA Member companies are required to demonstrate integrity, honesty and expertise through a Code of Practice which is policed via on-site visits when a member joins and by routine quality audits.
If you have any queries about the Fork Truck Watchdog or require advice on any other aspect of materials handling, your local FLTA Member will be happy to advise you. Find Members near you via the FLTA website.