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Changes in testing and training

01 March 2022

The testing of forklift operators has undergone a transformation. Liam Knight asks, are you up to date?

THE WORLD of lift truck training has undergone massive changes in recent times, and more are on the way. We’ve asked expert Liam Knight, to provide some timely answers. 

What do you feel has been the biggest challenge facing those managing materials handling operations?

It’s really difficult for managers and supervisors to keep abreast of developments in training. Many aren’t up to date with changes to the categories of equipment (previously known as the BITA Codes). And if you don’t understand the categories you can’t know what training an operator requires when you hire new starters. 

You’d expect those to be set in stone. 

Not so. In the past 2-3 years alone there have been several changes to the categorisation of materials handling equipment (MHE) and/or to their testing standards. These changes are made to ensure the categories are accurate and consistent so that everyone is talking about the same equipment. It has also made the testing more rigorous to ensure operators are up to the job.

How on earth do employers keep up?

With difficulty! That’s where accrediting bodies play such a vital role. We provide up-to-date information and a wealth of resources, including access to free digital paperwork. Without that strong and pro-active structure everyone in the training chain can struggle to keep informed. It’s why we at AITT devote so much time and energy to delivering clear updates as well as helpful technical and business support.

You mentioned the advantages of working with an accredited training provider. Can you explain more?

Well there’s a quality control aspect that runs through everything. Training providers are annually audited to ensure they have the correct policies, procedures and support in place for their instructors. We believe this is fundamental to maintaining the highest levels of competence.

Know your truck categories and, importantly, check the authenticity of qualifications. Training differs for each truck depending on factors including lifting capacity, steering, motive power, etc. 

Working with an accrediting body like ours also ensures continuity, so the quality and content of the training remains high from one year to the next, regardless of the individual trainer. It also delivers consistency across multiple sites, so larger companies can rest assured that wherever they are in the country the same training and testing is being delivered. 

What advice do you have for employers looking to hire MHE operators?

Know your truck categories and, importantly, check the authenticity of qualifications. Training differs for each truck depending on factors including lifting capacity, steering, motive power, etc. 

All too often certificates are accepted on face value and rarely verified. In short, never take an operator’s word for it. 

When potential applicants provide evidence of their operator qualification, if it is accredited, the employer will have the ability to cross-reference the validity of the certificate with the relevant accrediting body. Certificates accredited to AITT should display an ACORNS reference number. The employer simply needs to contact AITT with this ACORNS number and AITT will be able to confirm if the certificate is genuine.

What about the future? 

In the short term there is high demand for training and a shortage of instructors so I would advise employers not to neglect basic training and keep up with refresher training, and plan as far ahead as you can.

If you are interested in becoming an instructor, there’s never been a better time and you’ll find details on the AITT website.

If you are an employer, I’d urge you to do all you can to keep on top of changes to categories and testing standards. I know of at least one that’s coming down the track. 

Liam Knight, general manager, AITT

For more information, visit www.aitt.co.uk