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Your Quick Guide to Forklift Pre-Use Safety Inspections and Thorough Examinations

Blogs, MHE | 26th Jul 2021

Following National Forklift Safety Day 2021, which focussed on the importance of Thorough Examinations, our experts at RTITB have put together a quick guide with your ‘Need to Know’ information about Thorough Examinations and Safety Inspections of Industrial Lift Trucks. 

To help improve safety and save lives, it is so important to understand Thorough Examinations and Pre-Use checks, which is why it is something we’re covering here, and is included in RTITB Counterbalance Lift Truck Operator Training courses.

What is a forklift Thorough Examination?

A Thorough Examination is a mandatory inspection, required by law, to ensure that the lifting equipment is in safe working order. It is roughly equivalent to the MOT for cars.

How often should a forklift undergo a Thorough Examination?

All lifting equipment must receive a Thorough Examination at least once a year. However, they could be required more often depending on the type of truck and application.

What are the regulations relating to Thorough Examinations?

Thorough examinations are required by LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) 1998 and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) 1998The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 also requires that employers have a duty of care to their employees. Any truck that has not had checks on its load handling mechanisms, braking system, traction system, safety systems (including systems that protect trucks in potentially explosive areas) and general structure cannot be considered safe for employees to use.

Who can carry out a Thorough Examination?

A Thorough Examination should be carried out by a competent person. According to the LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance, this is someone, employed in-house or externally, with appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment in question. Of course, the person must also have completed sufficient and appropriate training.

What is a pre-use forklift safety inspection?

Pre-use safety inspections for forklift trucks (also referred to as daily checks, and pre-shift checks), are also legally required. They enable operators, supervisors, and managers to find and identify any faults that could lead to damage or compromise safety if left unfixed and could result in an incident or downtime.

How often should a pre-use inspection take place?

A pre-use inspection should be completed by the operator prior to any forklift operation; this could be either at the start of their shift or prior to a period of continuous use. Even if a forklift was already checked by another operator earlier that day, a pre-use inspection must take place before the next operator begins to use the truck.

Who is responsible for carrying out Pre-Use inspections?

This is often an area of confusion between managers and operators. It is the lift truck operator’s responsibility to carry out the inspection, prior to using the forklift. However, as with all forklift operations, supervision of all forklift operations is essential to ensure correct processes are followed, as well as for accountability.

Training courses, such as the RTITB Accredited Managing and Supervising Materials Handling Equipment Operations (also available as eLearning) show managers and supervisors how to identify their responsibilities and teach them how to minimise lift truck risks in the workplace.

What is covered in the pre-use inspection?

Statistics from the British Safety Council show that around 1,300 UK employees are hospitalised with serious injuries following a forklift accident. That equates to 5 people suffering from debilitating injuries and traumas each day in the UK alone.

During a pre-use forklift safety inspection, the operator should visually inspect and carry out functional tests on all of the general working parts that might show signs of wear or damage, such as the mast and carriage, the chains and fixing bolts, the forks, the brakes, and the steering. Other areas include any faults from the previous day, any obvious leaks, the hydraulic fluid level, and any illuminated warning lights.

Of course, the way pre-use checks should be carried out depends on the parts and functionalities of the specific truck. Ensuring that the physical or digital checklists used are specific to the exact equipment can be helpful for operators.

Thorough Examinations and Pre-Use Inspections – why bother?

Pre-use safety inspections and Thorough Examinations are a valuable, vital part of all lift truck operations. It is important for managers to provide the correct training, management, and supervision to ensure operators and operations stay safe, and both pre-use inspections and Thorough Examinations are an essential part of this.

As well as the responsibility to keep people safe, it is essential to understand the related law and regulations to ensure compliance, especially in the event that an incident does occur. National Forklift Safety Day in June 2021 was also an opportunity for employers to get familiar with the updated BITA GN28, which is guidance produced by the industry on how to comply with the legal obligations for Thorough Examinations and Safety Inspections.

Need more information?

For information about delivering RTITB Accredited lift truck operator training, or a Managing and Supervising Materials Handling Equipment Operations course to help keep your business on track when it comes to Thorough Examination and Pre-Use Inspections, contact RTITB. Or if you need an external training provider to maintain high standards, search for an RTITB Accredited course online now.