Categorized | Construction

Should refresher courses be compulsory for all FLT operators?

A whopping three million of us work on or around work place vehicles and, very worryingly, fatalities involving fork lift trucks rose every year throughout the first decade of this century.

Fork lift truck drivers need to be properly trained before they can use their vehicles under their own supervision. However, fork lift truck drivers do not require an official licence in the way that car and heavy goods vehicle drivers do. Under Health and Safety Executive regulations, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all their fork lift truck operators receive adequate training and, unfortunately, provision can be patchy. Legally, it can be provided in-house or by an external trainer.

In either case, the trainer will present the learner driver with a certificate on completion of the training course. The certificate is not a license, however and so cannot expire or be removed. It is obviously good practice to ensure that all drivers receive adequate training initially and undergo refresher courses regularly too. Ideally, this should always be external training, delivered by instructors who are properly trained themselves and really know what they are doing. But as we all know this does not always happen.

Worrying statistics

In Britain, there are over 8,000 accidents involving fork lift trucks every year. That works out at an average of 22 a day and these are only the accidents that are reported to the Health and Safety Executive. Of these accidents, an average of 12 a year results in the death of someone. Surprisingly perhaps, the injured are much more likely to be pedestrians rather than drivers. The HSE reports that 70% of those injured are colleagues working close to the fork lift truck rather than the operators themselves. Workers are, in fact, twice as likely to be hit by a fork lift truck than to fall from one.

We so often hear that our country is obsessed with Health and Safety and yet, it seems we still have some way to go before we really are safe in the workplace. Indeed, in a recent survey, 45% of fork lift truck drivers admitted that their employers had never assessed them for safety and a staggering third of employers confessed that, in their opinion, their employees were at risk in the workplace.

Refresher training

Whilst operators must be trained initially in the UK, there is not yet a legal requirement that they receive regular refresher training courses. Perhaps there should be. Refresher courses and safety checks are particularly necessary for operators who have had an accident or a near miss with their truck or have clearly developed unsafe driving habits or who have not driven their trucks for a long period of time. Nor is it yet a legal requirement that training is formerly accredited and delivered by fully qualified instructors. It is readily available, however and any employer worth his salt will ensure that his drivers receive it.

Author Bio

Richard McIntyre is owner of a large warehouse in Cambridgeshire. His drivers receive both initial and refresher forklift training in Huntingdon.