Friday, December 5, 2014

Prosecution Shines a Light on Freight and Road Haulage Operators Who Neglect Warehouse Maintenance

Legal Requirements for Fork Lift Trucks May Often be Ignored Through Ignorance of Company Responsibilities
Shipping News Feature

UK – One of the things which every transport operator has to bear in mind are the safety and brake checks required for an HGV fleet, without regular servicing and evidence of such a road haulage company can lose its operating licence in the blink of an eye. What, however, is in store for the same company as regards the reliability and safety of its fork trucks? Surely there are no formal checks in place for such vehicles not moving freight on the open road? Beware this attitude as a recent case before the Court has evidenced and ignore regular checks at you peril.

Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) is the organisation spawned jointly by the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA), with the support of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to set standards for handling equipment, and now the organisation warns that a recent case it has publicised may well be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the maintenance of the third of a million or so masted fork lift trucks believed to be currently in operation around the country.

The case in question arose after an HSE inspection at the premises of MIB United Meat Ltd, of Enfield, Middlesex, when the inspector found that the company’s 2.5-tonne counterbalance forklift truck, in use on the North London site, had never been examined, as required by safety rules for lifting equipment, since being purchased in August 2011. A specialist mechanical inspector from HSE, who examined the forklift in April 2013, found more than 40 faults, including some that could have endangered its operator which led to the company pleading guilty to three breaches of safety legislation and a resultant £18,000 fine with £2,314 in costs.

Many operators which take excellent care of their road going fleets, and undoubtedly many who aren’t so meticulous, give hardly a thought to the workhorses of the warehouse, paying them scant attention until they break down and this case typifies many a situation. The CFTS website ‘Thorough Examination’ acts as a guide to operators and contains a self help calculator to illustrate individual responsibilities dependent on type of equipment and frequency and type of use. CFTS Chairman Mike Mathias elaborates:

“Although shocking, this case is not as exceptional as it should be. There are many truck operators who are unaware of their responsibilities. Just like a car’s MOT, every fork truck needs a thorough examination at least every 12 months, and it could be even more frequently depending on the type of truck and the individual application.

“I would urge anyone who is unsure of their position to visit the CFTS website where they can find out which parts of the fork lift truck should be inspected and how often a thorough examination is necessary. In addition, they can find out where to get further advice from CFTS accredited companies in their area.”

The HSE ruling on the situation is unequivocal stating, ‘Thorough examination of industrial lift trucks is required under health and safety law: LOLER 1998, which covers lifting equipment, and PUWER 1998, which deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres'. So if in doubt firms should ensure that their warehouse equipment is maintained as rigorously as their road vehicles are required to be.