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Comprehensive inspection means comprehensive coverage

06 September 2016

No single piece of legislation covers the inspection of lift trucks, so it’s vital that those responsible for ensuring their safety and legality understand the rules governing them… as well as the most efficient way of meeting them. Shaun Prendergast, CFTS technical manager explores the issues.

Lift trucks must adhere to two sets of criteria: LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) and PUWER (Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment 1998).

While legislation demands Thorough Examination for lifting equipment at routine intervals, the law leaves room for interpretation. Without a quality-controlled procedure, such as that employed by CFTS-accredited companies, there are no guarantees of having the same depth of Thorough Examination twice.

In my role, I meet truck users regularly and from time to time we hear stories that these vital and complex safety checks are completed in as little as 15 minutes.

Cutting corners when it comes to Thorough Examination may save time, but this can come at a cost… and, unfortunately, when it comes to lift trucks, it’s most likely to be yours. Failing to comply with these legal requirements can place you at risk of health and safety breaches, legal non-compliance and even prosecution.

A matter of time

CFTS was set up as a joint initiative between the FLTA (Fork Lift Truck Association) and BITA (British Industrial Truck Association). For more than 10 years, we have been responsible for the comprehensive procedure and strict code of practice for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks which is followed by the scheme’s national network of more than 450 accredited providers.

From experience, using the CFTS checklist, the inspection of a 1.5 tonne three-wheel electric truck typically takes at least 45 minutes, while a 2.5 tonne IC engine truck might take between 1.25 and 1.5 hours.

As the complexity increases, inspections grow longer. A conventional telescopic handler, for example, might take around three hours to inspect properly. If it’s taking less, you need to ask yourself: “Why?”

Physical vs visual inspections

One reason that CFTS Thorough Examinations take longer is that our examiners are required to perform accurate physical examinations on key components. So there is no room for guesswork.

Consider a forklift truck’s chains. They are a vital component of a truck’s lifting mechanism. Every CFTS examiner is required to use an accurate chain gauge that judges wear and tear precisely – with results that can be replicated.

CFTS examiners also carry other equipment essential for accessing key components, such as a jack for checking the brakes and steering, or A-frame ladders to inspect chain wear at the top of the mast where it passes over the rollers – arguably the most crucial area for wear and faults.

Intensive and exhaustive inspection

The CFTS Thorough Examination is a long and detailed procedure which looks at all of the truck: embracing a host of components and systems.

Like MOTs, CFTS examinations are standardised throughout the country. This means whether you’re at Land’s End or John O’Groats, you can expect to receive the same quality and depth of inspection.

The 33-point Thorough Examination standard for lift trucks was specially developed for compliance and consistency, so employers can be confident that their trucks are working safely and within the law.

Indeed, it was precisely to meet the guidance of the HSE and to satisfy the legal requirements of both LOLER ’98 (covering lifting components, such as the forks and chains), as well as the rigorous legal demands of PUWER ‘98, (which governs other critical safety items such as brakes, steering and tyres) that the CFTS scheme was established.

To help you see the difference between these two legal requirements – and what’s covered by a CFTS Thorough Examination – take a look at our free, online interactive guides by visiting thoroughexamination.org