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Your rental responsibilities

08 April 2016

Cut through the confusion about your legal liabilities when you hire a fork lift truck with this handy guide to Thorough Examinations from CFTS.

A recent survey carried out by the Fork Lift Truck Association revealed that 84% of managers who hire fork lift trucks incorrectly believe the hire company is accountable for ensuring their truck holds a current Report of Thorough Examination.

Mike Mathias, chairman of national Thorough Examination standards organisation CFTS, explains the facts: “Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), the employer of a fork lift truck operator has a duty of care to make sure that a fork lift truck is safe to use. 

“When a truck is owned outright by the employer, the employer must arrange a regular Thorough Examination schedule appropriate to the truck and its use. 

“However, these days a large proportion of industrial trucks are supplied through long-term hire or lease arrangements. Many of these hirers may incorrectly assume that this mandatory obligation is covered by the maintenance contract… it is not. 

“When a truck is hired or leased long term, employers remain duty-bound to ensure that lift trucks are safe for their employees to use and are thoroughly examined at the appropriate intervals.”

The law in a nutshell

In legal terms, there is no single piece of legislation that deals with the Thorough Examination and inspection of fork lift trucks. Instead, they are covered by two separate pieces of legislation.

The HSE states: "Thorough Examination of industrial lift trucks is required under health and safety law: LOLER 1998, which covers lifting equipment, and PUWER 1998, which deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres.”

Despite the legislation spelling out quite clearly that both LOLER and PUWER are required by law, there is still a fair amount of room for interpretation, leaving individual providers able to decide exactly what should and shouldn’t be included in a Thorough Examination.  

As a result, not all Thorough Examinations are the same. Despite the best intentions of managers and supervisors, this lack of consistency means vital safety checks may be missed, rendering the fork truck potentially dangerous and in breach of the law.

To overcome this, 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 inspection procedure for fork lift truck users, whatever their size, industry or location.

The resulting organisation, CFTS, established a comprehensive procedure and strict code of practice that gives lift truck users a consistent, safe, national standard certain to fulfil the requirements of both LOLER and PUWER

Ten years later, the CFTS scheme has proved a remarkable success, with more than 450 companies now accredited to the scheme – each immediately identifiable by its use of the famous kite-mark accreditation logo.  

So whether you are responsible for one fork lift truck or one hundred, and whatever your industry or location, you can be assured there is someone close by who is trained to carry out a CFTS Thorough Examination. 

But CFTS’ role doesn’t end there. To help cut through the confusion, its website allows visitors to calculate how often a Thorough Examination is required.

Unlike a car MOT, fork lift trucks are due for their first examination after a maximum of 12 months (and maybe even sooner depending your specific equipment and application). 

On the website, visitors will find an interactive function to help identify exactly what should be covered by a Thorough Examination on each different type of truck.

For managers and supervisors, remaining legally compliant has never been so tough, and with a growing trend towards extending hire agreements beyond the traditional five-year term – and holding onto owned equipment much longer – a schedule of properly conducted inspections is paramount.  

To make sure you are on the right side of the law, or to find out more about CFTS Thorough Examinations, call CFTS Technical Manager Shaun Prendergast on 07730 768668, or email shaun@thoroughexamination.org (Shaun covers the north of the UK, Ireland and Scotland).

Alternatively, call Matthew Kennedy on 07739 638866 or email matthew@thoroughexamination.org (Matthew covers the south of the UK, Wales and the Channel Islands).

CFTS: The national standard

During a CFTS Thorough Examination, a Competent Person will undertake a comprehensive examination which will meet the requirements of both LOLER ‘98 and PUWER ‘98. 

Under LOLER ‘98, the truck’s lifting equipment will be inspected, including: 



Tilt mechanism



Load guard

Attachments/side shift (if fitted)

Hydraulic system

Rating plate

In addition, other vital, safety-related components will be checked to meet PUWER ‘98, such as:  

Overhead guard


Wheels and tyres


Seat mountings

Safety equipment

Traction system


Employers must ensure that their current provider inspects all these items before agreeing to let them carry out their next Thorough Examination.