Stuart Taylor is Managing Director of Mentor FLT Training Limited, the UK's leading provider of training and associated services for all types of materials handling equipment and workplace transport.
A recent case has highlighted the vital need for employers to thoroughly check and assess new employees' forklift training and skills before they get behind the wheel of a truck, according to Stuart Taylor
In July, courts heard how a UK warehouse owner took on two men who claimed to be experienced with forklifts. Sadly, it wasn't until a fatal accident that it became clear neither had sufficient training or qualifications in that area.Serious financial penalties
The company faced a GBP250,000 fine (plus court costs) - a cost that would decimate it, according to the owner. In court, he said that he monitored operations, but he did not assess their competence to operate forklifts when they were employed and was not qualified to perform their assessments.
Understanding what the law requires of you, as an employer, is essential. When you employ a new forklift operator, you are responsible for making sure that your new recruit has all the skills and training necessary to safely operate forklifts.
Under UK law, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98)
states: "Every employer shall ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training."
If your new member of staff is involved in an accident, you, as the employer
, can be held responsible, so it's crucial - for you as an individual and for your business - that you check their credentials.
So how can you know your employee's skills for sure, and how can you protect your business if something does go wrong?1. Request copies of training documentation
Although UK law doesn't require you to physically check each employee's documentation, it is good practice to request copies of all training certificates, review them and then keep them on file. This allows you to determine whether the training they've received to date is adequate for the tasks required of them.
Bear in mind that not all training certificates have holograms or watermarks. If you are in any doubt whether a certificate is genuine, you should forward it to the training provider or awarding body to confirm authenticity.2. Check accreditation
We advise that if a UK training certificate is awarded by one of the four main accrediting bodies (AITT, RTITB, NPORS and ITSSAR), you can be confident that training has been delivered to a high set of standards that are in line with all relevant and current legislation.
These four organisations are members of the Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA). Each holds a database of all operator training delivered under that accreditation, so, as an employer, you can simply contact them to confirm completed training.
But what if a certificate is provided that has not been awarded by one of the four accrediting bodies? Every training certificate should be measured against ABA standards, including those issued outside the UK, as this will establish whether it meets the standards required by L117, the UK industry's Approved Code of Practice.3. Assess skills
Regardless of whether a driver has received training to ABA standards or not, their skills and competence must
be assessed before
they can be authorised to freely operate forklift trucks on site.
This crucial step is key to safeguarding your workforce and your business. It allows you to identify any skill gaps before they impact on your operations. And if you have any doubts at all about the forklift operator's experience, then providing training is always the safest course of action.
Driver skills and competence must be assessed before they can be authorised to freely operate forklift trucks on site.