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Pushed to breaking point

26 October 2020

CFTS reveals why a Thorough Examination is key to ensuring every single part of your forklift is in safe working condition, and how your site could do more damage than meets the eye.

Do you know what hidden dangers lie within your work equipment? 

Although trucks such as forklifts and telehandlers are built for heavy-duty operations, frequent use takes its toll on every part.

Over time, crucial elements will break down due to wear and tear. For example, chains have been made and tested for the stresses of day-to-day operations, but they are still vulnerable, and a Thorough Examination will identify any signs of corrosive fatigue on these components or other lift truck parts.

The map

With over 600 accredited member depots across the UK, a proper Thorough Examination is closer than you think. Find your nearest member on the CFTS website.

If trucks are not inspected regularly, and faults go unnoticed, it could result in a devastating accident and life-changing injuries to staff, as well as damaged stock, delayed deliveries, and broken equipment that costs thousands to repair. If a company is found to have not fulfilled its responsibilities for providing safe equipment, it could also lead to prosecution and significant fines. 

Updates to the official sentencing guidelines in the last couple of years have meant that rather than fixed penalties, fines for rule breaches are now proportionate to a company’s turnover – with the potential for some huge figures. Fines of six or seven digits are now not uncommon in serious cases, so more than ever it pays to stay within official guidelines.


Owners should ensure that equipment receives a Thorough Examination at least once every 12 months to confirm that it is safe to use and in good working order. Non-permanent truck attachments and accessories will need to be inspected every 6 months, as will equipment that is used to lift people. If the equipment or how it is used is altered, then Thorough Examinations schedules will be affected

Depending on the environment the truck works in, it could even require an inspection as often as every 4 months. For example, if work equipment operates in arduous conditions or industries, such as construction, metal manufacturing or aggregate processing, it is more likely that important components will be damaged by abrasive materials or corroded by certain chemicals.

Why choose CFTS?  

  • The famous CFTS quality assurance kitemark is a universal certification that guarantees the truck – and the examiner – are up to scratch. 
  • Engineers are well-trained, experienced specialists with in-depth knowledge.
  • UK-wide network of over 600 CFTS-accredited depots, each working to the same criteria on every inspection, certifying uniform standards across the country. 
  • Regular ‘inspections of inspectors’ to ensure all accredited examiners follow precisely the same rules and procedures. 
  • Free pictorial interactive guides available on the CFTS website illustrate exactly which parts of a truck are covered by different regulations. 
  • Be confident that trucks are safe to use thanks to the most authoritative and comprehensive lift truck inspection standard available. 
  • Searchable online database allows customers to easily connect with local CFTS Thorough Examination providers.

The amount the truck is used also plays a significant role in determining how often an inspection is needed. Inspections are required every 4 months if it is used over 80 hours a week, every 6 months if it used 40 to 80 hours a week, or every 12 months if it is used under 40 hours a week.

A CFTS-accredited Competent Person can advise on the appropriate schedule for a truck based on these factors.


Telehandlers and rough terrain forklifts are used a lot within the agricultural sector, and should be inspected often, but there is some confusion around Thorough Examination requirements for these vehicles. Many truck owners believe statutory inspections are part of servicing, or are unsure about what needs to be checked and when. Thorough Examinations are in fact a legal requirement for all lift trucks and must be completed at least once every 12 months.

Truck owners working within the agriculture industry often maintain their trucks in-house, and in many cases tend to change attachments depending on their application. For a truck to remain legally compliant and safe to use, Thorough Examinations must be carried out by a ‘Competent Person’ and removable lifting attachments must be subject to a Thorough Examination at least every 6 months.

Owners can find a local CFTS provider at www.thoroughexamination.org/find-an-accredited-examiner

Consistency is key

Prior to the creation of CFTS in 2004, the inspection procedure for Thorough Examinations was open to a fair degree of interpretation. Without a quality-controlled procedure, there were no guarantees of consistency. As a result, a provider was able to decide what should and shouldn’t be included.  

To overcome this situation, the two leading organisations in the materials handling industry – the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) – joined forces (with the support of the HSE) to create a single, national procedure available to truck users, wherever their industry or location.  

Unlike the cursory inspections offered by other providers, a CFTS Thorough Examination involves a long and detailed assessment of the entire truck.

It was specially developed for compliance and consistency, so employers can be confident that their trucks are working safely and within the law in alignment with both LOLER and PUWER regulations. 

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.


Consolidated Fork Truck Services

Tel: 01344 623800 

Email:  Matthew Kennedy, Technical Manger (South) - matthew@thoroughexamination.org / Adrian White, Technical Manager (North) - Adrian@thoroughexamination.org

Web: www.thoroughexamination.org

CFTS was created in 2004 to improve operational safety standards across the materials handling industry. Visit the website for further information, or to find details on all CFTS-accredited companies.