Fork Lift operators, even those who are trained and experienced, need to be routinely monitored in the workplace and, where necessary, retested or refresher trained to make sure they continue to operate lift trucks safely.
The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) believes that regular refresher training for lift truck drivers is vital, since so much forklift truck work is repetitive, it’s easy for operators to develop shortcuts and pick up bad habits on the job. Routine assessments help to identify bad practice and give management the insight to iron out faults and maintain good driving habits.
The HSE does not regulate on the frequency of refresher courses; it is up to the employer to enforce it, based on driver skill and experience. Regular refresher training is also particularly useful when operators don’t use trucks very often, when working practices or environments change or to help build operator confidence in the event of a near miss or accident.
The HSE Approved Code of Practice and guidance for ‘Rider-Operated Lift Trucks: Operator Training and Safe Use’ (L117) is aimed at employers and those responsible for the safe operation of lift trucks, as well as those in control of worksites, the self-employed, managers and supervisors. This ACOP and guidance states:
‘There is no specific time period after which you need to provide refresher training or formal assessment. However, you may decide that automatic refresher training or a retest after a set period (for example 3 to 5 years) is the best way to make sure your employees remain competent.
Where you adopt this approach, you will still need to monitor performance, in case operators need extra training before the set period ends.’
Regular refresher training will ensure operators:
- Maintain good driving habits
- Learn new skills where appropriate
- Reassess their abilities
Refresher training or retesting might also be appropriate where operators:
- Have not used trucks for some time
- Are occasional users
- Appear to have developed unsafe working practices
- Have had an accident, or a near miss
- Have had a change to their working practices or environment
Employers are advised to identify weaknesses, through regular assessments, monitoring and combat them through regular refresher training courses.