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What is Familiarisation Training for Forklift Operators?

Blogs | 6th Nov 2019
What is Familiarisation Training for Forklift Operators?

When speaking to employers, we hear a lot of confusion about the different stages of lift truck operator training – Basic Training, Specific Job Training and Familiarisation Training – which are laid out in the Health & Safety Executive’s Code of Practice for Rider Operated Trucks L117.

We’ve previously explained what forklift Specific Job Training is, and why it’s important.

But what is Familiarisation Training for lift trucks?

Familiarisation Training is all about taking the knowledge and skills learnt in Basic Training and Specific Job Training and applying them under normal working conditions. So the first two stages of forklift truck training must be successfully completed first.

This stage of forklift training must take place on the job, but under very close supervision from an appropriately skilled and qualified individual. As with all training, it should be documented on the operator’s training record.
All three stages of lift truck training must be completed before an operator is issued with an authorisation to operate on site by their employer.

What is covered in Familiarisation Training for forklift trucks?

Unsurprisingly, this training is about getting familiar with day to day lift truck activities. Typically, Familiarisation Training will start with more simple tasks and then develop on to more complex ones.

At this stage of training, it is about forklift operators using what they have already learned, such as information about machine controls, attachment usage, working environment, site rules, specific tasks, inspection and maintenance and safe practices. It is also intended to further familiarise operators with the actual machines they will be using and the actual live working conditions.

Familiarisation Training is also a chance for the employer to cover any features of the job that it is not possible to teach outside of the workplace, such as site layout and emergency procedures.

Who needs to do lift truck Familiarisation Training?

This requirement for this stage of training applies for both employed team members, and for agency workers and contractors.

Although they may be able to prove they have completed lift truck training elsewhere, unless they have worked in the particular work environment, on identical tasks, with the exact same machines, they will require some Specific Job Training and Familiarisation Training (as well as additional supervision). Only then should agency workers or contractors be issued an authorisation to operate.

More details on what your Familiarisation Training should cover can be found in the HSE INDG462 Lift-truck training: Advice for Employers.

How long does MHE Familiarisation Training take?

It depends. Familiarisation Training should continue for as long as it takes for the competent person supervising the training to be satisfied that the operator can operate a lift truck and carry out the specific tasks for their role in a live working environment safely and efficiently. The time taken will therefore vary from business to business and operator to operator.

Only when the employer is satisfied with the operator’s performance can the lift truck operator be signed off from their forklift Familiarisation Training and an authorisation to operate on the site be issued.

Who can deliver Familiarisation Training for materials handling equipment?

Lift truck Familiarisation Training should only be delivered by a competent person who is themselves qualified to operate the truck and attachments on which training is being delivered. They must be able to prove this and have an authorisation to operate from the employer.

The competent person must be familiar with the workplace environment, its policies, safe working procedures, and risk assessments, plus the specific tasks that the operator will be required to complete day-to-day. For this reason, Familiarisation Training is often best delivered by an in-house Lift Truck Instructor rather than an external training provider or a supervisor/manager who has themselves not undergone any relevant training. People who have completed a managing and supervising lift truck operations course or a lift truck assessor course would usually be competent to carry out Familiarisation Training.

Does an operator only need Familiarisation Training once?

Refresher training/testing is required at periodic intervals on all aspects of an operator’s role and functions in order to keep your operation safe and efficient.

Similarly, if an operator needs to extend the range of lift trucks they are qualified to drive, conversion training will be required. This teaches how to operate a truck of a significantly different size or power source, for instance.

Conversion training should follow the same three stages – Basic Training, Specific Job Training and Familiarisation Training – and ensure an operator’s ability is assessed before they are given authorisation to operate on the site.

Where can I find out more about Familiarisation Training?

Further guidance on effective workplace training and relevant safety regulations, can be found in the RTITB Training Recommendations for Workplace Transport Guide. Download a free taster of this document here.

More advice on Lift Truck training

RTITB Accreditation for materials handling equipment is a great way for your business to access all the resources and support you need to deliver every stage of lift truck training. We help our RTITB accredited partners to stay compliant and maintain training records easily and accurately.

To find out more about how you can improve safety in your workplace operations with accredited forklift operator training, contact our friendly RTITB Solutions team on +44(0)1952 520207 or solutions@rtitb.co.uk.