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What happens in an HSE inspection and what sounds alarm bells?

20 February 2024

A SYSTEMATIC and detailed examination of lifting equipment, otherwise known as a Thorough Examination, has been identified as a key indicator of a company’s overall approach to health and safety.

That is one of the important takeaways from an informative and engaging presentation by Kanwal Kanda, HM principal inspector, HSE Transport Sector, at the recent UKMHA National Safety Convention.

After all, if a forklift truck is not maintained and examined regularly to ensure it is safe, what does that say about the health and safety standards within that organisation? 

Speaking on the convention theme: Implementing a Safety Culture, Kanda presented a case study in which an employee sadly lost his life, using the circumstances to explain what happens during an HSE inspection, and what will be assessed.

"Our inspectors will evaluate the effectiveness of management arrangements within an organisation, focusing on how successful management is in:

  • Setting policies/standards, monitoring and enforcing compliance  
  • Ensuring everyone throughout an organisation is committed to safety and allocating specific responsibility to individuals throughout an organisation
  • Communicating effectively and ensuring everyone is working together
  • Building capability and competence

"These are clear indicators of an organisation’s approach to health and safety and if deficiencies are found in any of them, then inspectors may well take enforcement action to secure improvements."

Kanda explained that the duration of an inspection can vary according to a number of factors, including company size, complexity and work activity. The inspector does not have the luxury of assessing health and safety in all aspects of the business which means they must focus on a few key behaviours that reflect a broader picture.

In terms of forklift trucks and other workplace transport, these typically include: 

  • Thorough Examination and maintenance of lift trucks
  • Arrangements for ensuring lift trucks and pedestrians can move around in a safe manner around the workplace
  • Competence of lift truck operators

Commenting on the presentation, Geoff Martin, chairman of CFTS - the industry’s accrediting body for Thorough Examination of workplace vehicles - said: "Health and safety is paramount in any workplace that operates forklift trucks and other materials handling machinery. And, as was made very clear at the Safety Convention, that means equipment must be regularly maintained and receive Through Examinations that meet the requirements of both LOLER and PUWER."

If you are in any doubt about what that entails, visit the CFTS website for more information at www.thoroughexamination.org or gain friendly and obligation-free advice from any of the 800+ CFTS-accredited depots across the UK.

For further advice visit the HSE website at https://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/thorough-examinations-lifting-equipment.htm