Friday, June 21, 2019

Forklift Trucks - Some of the Most Common Questions Addressed by the Professionals

Materials Handling Equipment Can be Dangerous for Driver and Employer Alike
Shipping News Feature
UK – The use of forklift trucks has always been a bit of a grey area for many of the companies which use them. Despite the fact that these incredible workhorses have the power to cause enormous damage in the wrong, or inexperienced hands, often users, including many in the freight and cargo handling community, have little or no idea with regards to legislation and their legal obligations.

Considering the fact that a serious incident involving a truck could literally bankrupt a company which had been lax in its control of machines and operators under their control the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) published a series of questions and answers this month to address some common facts and concerns. CEO of the FLTA, Tim Waples has responded to some of the recent questions received by the Association thus:

Forklifts on public roads: ”If someone is crossing a side street on a forklift to travel from one department to another: Do they need to register the forklift? Does it require taxing? How far can they travel before having to register?”

“The issue of forklifts on public streets is one the Association is regularly asked about. All mechanically propelled vehicles need to be registered and taxed under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994. As to how they are taxed: forklifts are taxed based on their means of propulsion as well as their weight.

“Any electric trucks are taxed in the Electric Vehicle class. A forklift with a revenue weight up to 3500kg comes under the Private/Light Goods taxation class. A forklift with a revenue weight exceeding 3500kg (provided it is designed for use on private premises) can be classed as a work truck. It can be used on the road to carry goods between the premises and a nearby vehicle.

“Distances exceeding 1000 yards on a public road will require the vehicle to be taxed in the HGV taxation class. Distances under 1000 yards do not require registration for road use but be aware of the requirements for insurance in case the truck is involved in an accident.”

Forklift finance: ”Is there a way of finding out if a forklift has finance still owing on it?”

“Unfortunately, only trucks registered with the DVLA can be HPI checked. However, Investec Materials Handling Finance, one of our members, can carry out a check on your behalf using their systems and at their absolute discretion. If you wish them to do this for you, please contact them on 0330 123 2017 and ask for any of the following members of the team: Jon Hussey, Stacey West or Leanne Kirkwood. They will require as much detail as possible on the machine such as make, model, year of manufacture, serial number etc.”

Second-hand guards: ”If you fit a second-hand overhead guard, would this need to be tested?”

“Provided that the guard is undamaged, unmodified (including holes drilled for fixtures added post manufacture), is an original guard, fitted to the original mounts, with genuine fixtures and is from a machine of the same brand, model and capacity, it should not be necessary to subject it to testing. It will be up to you, or your engineer, as a competent person, to ultimately determine the integrity of the repaired machine.”

Power pallet trucks: ”What training is required to operate a Powered Pallet Truck? Does a powered pallet truck require an annual LOLER inspection or is it only servicing that is required/advised?”

“Regarding training for power pallet trucks: Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) states that an employer must provide adequate training for all persons using work equipment, and this includes powered pallet trucks. It also specifies that the training must cover how the machine is used, the risks involved, and detail the precautions to be taken.

“It is also essential for you to maintain up-to-date risk assessments and training records, and to ensure that adequate refresher training is provided, especially if there is a change of machinery or the application has been subject to changes. Please do not assume that there is no legal requirement to provide formal training, there most certainly is.

“The HSE has recently updated its Approved Code of Practice to clarify that LOLER applies to high-lift pallet trucks (both manual and powered) that have the ability to raise the forks above 300mm. The ACoP can be downloaded free of charge from the HSE’s website.”

Summing up, Tim said: “It’s always good to see how many non-Members know to come to us for guidance on forklift matters. The Association’s wealth of knowledge and reputation as the experts is well established. We’re always looking to expand our archive of information and keep it up-to-date, so the more we’re asked the better our resources become.

Although the need for training was emphasised the one question not discussed in the above in detail was the matter of ‘fork truck licences’. The term is a bit of a misnomer as one would assume the title means, as with any vehicle on the public roads, the holder is licensed by the DVLA, whereas in fact the term refers to a certificate issued by a training agency, the quality of which can vary. The licence for use on private property is specific to the type of truck, counterbalance, reach etc. The term of the licence is often decided by the employer which opts to have operators retrain periodically, typically three to five year intervals.

Taking a vehicle out onto the public roads however, no matter the distance travelled, is likely to open a can of worms if the truck is involved in an accident of any type. The driver needs to be licensed for the vehicle through the DVLA, failure to do so will invalidate all insurance and start the operator on a potentially nightmare journey.

Photo: The potential for a real disaster always lurks where heavy machinery is involved.