Thursday, April 7, 2016

Road Haulage Trucks Require Good Maintenance but Ignore What Handles Freight at Your Peril

The Humble Fork Lift Needs Some TLC Too
Shipping News Feature
UK – We live at a time when every facet of road haulage and the logistics industry seems to elicit more legislation and health and safety requirements every passing year. Yet, whilst junior doctors claim they are being pushed to work long continuous shifts, lorry drivers are, quite rightly, required by law to take strictly measured breaks and rest periods. Every time after they insert their card into a digital tachograph, the truck driver’s first duty is to complete a thorough walk round check of his vehicle before he turns a wheel.

In addition to the daily health check the truck is subjected to regular, monitored and audited brake and safety checks and that is before the ever present MOT Test. Contrary to popular belief even the MOT is not something which indicates the vehicle is in perfect health. It merely means it has met or exceeded the minimum standards required by law.

The equipment used daily by most freight firms does not however stop with the on the road fleet and one area which certainly needs addressing is the maintenance and testing of fork lift trucks which are generally exempt from Department of Transport or VOSA attention. Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) was created by the two leading organisations in the fork lift truck industry (the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA), with the support of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Now CFTS has pointed out that employers run a real risk if they operate materials handling equipment which is in an unsafe condition, particularly if this leads to an accident caused by their unsafe state. CFTS Chairman Mike Mathias explains:

“MOTs are standardised, meaning that wherever you are in the country, you can expect a very similar procedure. Forklift trucks, however, aren’t governed by a single piece of legislation, like cars. As a result, it means the law must be interpreted, which can create a risk of important aspects being missed. Our 33-point Thorough Examination standard was specially developed for compliance, so that employers can be confident that their trucks are working safely and within the law.

“It meets the rigorous demands of LOLER, which covers lifting components, such as the forks and chains, as well as PUWER 98, which governs other critical safety items such as brakes, steering and tyres. Perhaps most importantly, this exacting standard demands for key components to be physically inspected. We regularly hear of trucks that are only inspected visually. This type of guesswork, particularly with critical components such as the chains, could see you fall foul of the law, or worse.

“This is why it’s so important to ask questions about your thorough examinations before they happen. At the very least, you should ask your provider to confirm that the inspection your truck will undergo will meet both LOLER and PUWER requirements. Even setting that aside, however, there is still enormous variation between providers in the standard of their approach to helping you comply with the law. By choosing a CFTS-accredited examiner, you can take the element of risk out of the thorough examination.”

CFTS employs a national network of more than 500 accredited providers and is responsible for the comprehensive procedures and strict code of practice for the thorough examination of fork lift trucks making makes a single, country wide procedure available to truck users, whatever their industry or location.