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Comprehensive lift truck inspections

28 October 2016

It is vital that managers and supervisors who are responsible for the safety and lawful use of industrial equipment understand their legal obligations, explains CFTS technical manager Shaun Prendergast.

While legislation demands Thorough Examination for lifting equipment at routine intervals (at least once every 12 months), the laws governing it leave some room for interpretation.  

Compliance has never been so tough for managers and supervisors, thanks to the introduction of Fee for Intervention (FFI), the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, and the updated to the Approved Code of Practice (L117).  

But earlier this year, it got much tougher. New sentencing guidelines, introduced in February, resulted in proportional (and far higher) company fines in HSE prosecutions. This is on top of the already-increased fines for individuals under the Corporate Manslaughter Act. 

The costs of non-compliance are higher than ever before, so it’s vital that those most at risk are aware and informed. 

Intensive and exhaustive inspection

Without a quality-controlled procedure for Thorough Examination, such as that employed by CFTS-accredited companies, there are no guarantees of consistency. Indeed, your equipment may not receive the same scope and intensity of inspection twice in a row.

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 (LOLER 98 and PUWER 98).

From time to time, we hear stories that these vital and complex safety checks are completed in as little as 15 minutes. It simply can’t be done to a sufficient standard in such a short time.

Typically, a Thorough Examination should take more than 45 minutes for a 1.5 tonne three-wheel electric truck, following the CFTS checklist. A 2.5 tonne IC engine truck might take between 1.25 and 1.5 hours.

As the truck’s complexity increases, inspections grow longer. A conventional telescopic handler, for example, might take around three hours to inspect properly.

Cutting corners on a Thorough Examination may save time, but this often comes at a cost... most likely yours. Failure to comply can place your trucks, your business and, most importantly, your workforce at risk. 

No room for guesswork 

One reason that CFTS Thorough Examinations take longer is that our examiners are required to follow a quality-controlled process which means they must perform accurate physical examinations on key components.

Consider a fork lift truck’s chains. They are a vital component of a truck’s lifting mechanism. Every CFTS examiner is required to use an accurate self-calibrating chain gauge that judges wear and tear precisely. Importantly, these results can be replicated. CFTS examiners also carry other equipment essential for accessing key components, such as a jack for checking the brakes and steering and A-frame ladders or similar 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.

Competence you can depend on

Competent persons accredited to CFTS are experienced, specialist fork lift engineers, who possess the in-depth knowledge to identify and categorise defects clearly.

Not only does this ensure your trucks are safer, it also means you’re more aware of the actions needed to remedy any issues. Their training includes a demanding Thorough Examination course, which is refreshed once every five years. In addition, they must meet a nationally agreed criteria in this important role.

Likewise, high levels of training and experience are expected and required of their managers – ensuring that businesses, like yours, choosing CFTS for their Thorough Examination, receive the highest quality service.

Strengthening the process

At CFTS, we are always looking for ways to strengthen the depth and quality of the controlled inspection process. 

Most recently, we focused on attachments, working closely with the UK’s leading attachment manufacturers and suppliers to develop tough new tests for these vital pieces of equipment. 

Our revised standard comprises 34 checks (increased from 18) and covers a wide range of attachments, including mountings, platforms and safety cages. 

Peace of mind

A poor choice of Thorough Examination provider could result in a heavy fine, a Health and Safety Executive FFI (Fee for Intervention), or even a horrific accident and prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act. It certainly isn’t something that can be rushed or compromised.

CFTS is a national standard for Thorough Examinations in the UK fork lift truck industry. For details, or to find your closest CFTS examiner, please visit www.thoroughexamination.org