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Don't overlook pre-use forklift inspections

10 February 2022

According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), almost one in five lift truck incidents occur as a result of mechanical failure, which could be avoided through correct completion of a pre-use inspection.

Worryingly the HSE survey also found that many lift truck operators did not know to check the mast, carriage, or brakes correctly – all of which could cause an incident.  

Do your lift truck operators know how to carry out “pre-use inspections” and understand how crucial they are? Are they completing the check daily and can they, and you, prove it?

What is a pre-use inspection?

The forklift pre-use inspection involves checking the general working parts of the truck for signs of damage or wear. Even if a lift truck has been checked by another operator that day, a pre-use inspection should still be carried out when the next operator needs to use the forklift. It’s important that a pre-use check is carried out correctly for each machine type on site as parts and functionalities of trucks differ. The use of machine specific check sheets and reference to the manufacturer’s handbook can ensure that vital areas of the machine are not missed.

It’s the law

By neglecting to carry out pre-use inspections, forklift operators may be breaking the law by failing in their duty of care to themselves and others. Even if the correct inspections are taking place, operators must properly record the findings, otherwise your insurance may not cover them in the result of an incident.

Who is responsible?

With pre-use inspections, there seems to be the assumption that responsibility lies with someone else. Operators often assume that it’s a management issue, that their supervisors have things under control, and someone will tell them what they need to know. Meanwhile, managers assume that operators will inform them if something needs to be reported, and that if nothing has been mentioned, then there is not a problem. In fact, both have a responsibility to ensure pre-use checks are done and recorded correctly. 

Therefore, the importance of a pre-use inspection should be covered within operator training, so operators understand why it is a vital aspect of their day-to-day role. Equally, managers/supervisors should be trained to understand their legal responsibilities around maintenance of equipment.

Supervision is critical

Training may also be necessary to highlight the importance of correctly completed pre-use inspections to your supervisory staff and management.  Managers and supervisors need to take responsibility for ensuring that pre-use inspections are carried out and recorded accurately and must recognise when inspections aren’t being conducted properly. Random checks on pre-use inspections throughout the shift may help.

Choose accredited lift truck training 

RTITB Accredited training is the best way to ensure that forklift operators are trained and skilled at carrying out pre-use inspections properly.

The RTITB Counterbalance (Forklift) Lift Truck Training course for example has a high success rate because it gives candidates the skills to operate trucks safely and efficiently, carry out pre-use inspections correctly, and understand and explain the causes of truck and load instability.  

To overlook the importance of the lift truck pre-use inspection poses a real risk to your staff and business, with potentially devastating consequences. It is about much more than legal compliance.

For more information, visit www.rtitb.com