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CFTS: Sitting your examinations

01 August 2013

Unlike an MOT, a Thorough Examination is open to some interpretation – which could cause major problems for employers. As the manager or director of a company that uses fork lift trucks you are probably aware of the need for Thorough Examination – brought into even sharper focus in recent times by the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007.

All available research indicates that there is still a great deal of confusion among employers regarding exactly what must be inspected. Most know it includes the forks and the lift mechanism (it is, after all, a fork lift truck!), but what about the brakes and the steering? Surprisingly, perhaps, the answer depends on which version of Thorough Examination you sign up to.

Unlike automotive MOTs, the inspection procedure for Thorough Examinations is open to a fair degree of interpretation. Which means that, in effect, a provider is able to decide what should and shouldn’t be included.
It was to overcome this clearly untenable situation that the two leading organisations in the fork lift truck industry – the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) – joined forces to create a single, national procedure available to truck users, wherever their industry or location.

The resulting delivery body, Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS), established a comprehensive procedure and strict code of practice, recruited expert staff, provided management training and put in place the mechanism to monitor standards. Companies accredited to the scheme – and there are nearly 400 of them covering the length and breadth of the UK – can be identified via the distinctive "kite” certification mark.

So what are the differences?
According to CFTS technical manager Chas Day, "The nub of the problem is that there simply isn’t a single piece of legislation exclusively for fork lift trucks. Instead, they are governed by two separate pieces of legislation: Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98), which covers everything from photocopiers to motor vehicles, and Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER 98), which also embraces equipment such as tower cranes and dumb waiters in restaurants! "The task facing CFTS was to establish a "best practice” process that offers the appropriate level of inspection to the equipment... and the greatest level of protection to those responsible for the safety of the fork lift truck operator (and the many more co-workers and pedestrians who come into contact with what is potentially a very dangerous piece of equipment*.)

"Examining your truck against one set of criteria without the other clearly leaves many crucial elements of your truck unchecked... and in a potentially dangerous state.

"Yet there are still inspections being carried out under the banner of Thorough Examination that only check those items covered by LOLER. In our view, that really is only doing half the job... How can you claim to have properly inspected a truck for safety if those items that come under PUWER are simply ignored? In my view that leaves unsuspecting managers and directors potentially exposed to prosecution should anything go wrong.

"To clarify the law: Thorough Examinations are required under LOLER, whilst periodic inspections are required under PUWER.”

Free web tool keep fork truck users legal
The creators of the UK’s only nationally agreed framework for the delivery of Thorough Examinations for fork lift trucks has launched an interactive online guide, to help companies stay within the law. Designed to simplify and encourage legal compliance among fork truck users, the new Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) website (www.thoroughexamination.org) hosts a number of interactive web applications that answer the most common questions from users on the subject of Thorough Examinations.

In just a few clicks of a button, users can find out when their truck’s next examination is likely to be due, discover exactly which parts of their truck will be inspected, watch an informational video and identify which companies in their area are up to the CFTS accreditation mark.