Tuesday May 30, 2017
For the road ahead

Rider-operated lift trucks

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced an ‘Approved Code of Practice and guidance' on all aspects of lift trucks.This 44 page document entitled ‘Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use' is available to download here. But, here's a taste at what is included in the document. 

Background to lift trucks

Fork lift trucks are widely used throughout our industry for moving materials and goods, but they also feature prominently in work site accidents. Every year there are about 8,000 lift truck accidents, some of which are fatal. Some accidents are due to drivers' health issues, so people operating lift trucks should be free from physical defects that might pose a threat to their own health and safety, or the safety of others. (People with disabilities need not generally be excluded from work; medical advice should be obtained about an individual's suitability for a specific job).

What does driving lift trucks mean for employees?

Employees need to be aware that health issues can negatively affect driving and that substances such as medication, alcohol and illicit drugs can have disastrous results. Specific illnesses such as diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure and poor vision can also contribute to accidents.

What are employers' responsibilities?

There is no specific legislation regarding fitness to drive a fork lift truck, however, the standards set out in the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) documents for class 1 and class 2 licences are usually applied. Drivers of forklift trucks should be screened for fitness to drive before training commences, and at regular intervals thereafter. It is recommended that a driver's health is checked at age 40 and then every five years, until the age of 65 when the medicals should be carried out annually.Those diagnosed with a health condition, such as high blood pressure, should temporarily stop driving forklift trucks until the condition has been treated successfully. Occasionally a health condition may be diagnosed that makes forklift driving untenable in the long-term. In such cases, employers are advised to redeploy the employee to other work, if possible (in line with the principles of the Equality Act 2010). If your employer does propose this, please speak to your URTU Health & Safety Rep or Regional Officer.Repeat medical assessments are also recommended in all cases after an accident or sickness absence lasting more than one month. They are also recommended after a shorter period of absence if it appears likely that the illness may affect driving. This may include employees who have started on medications that have been prescribed by the GP.

Where can I get medical advice?

The NHS runs a Health for Work Adviceline (0800 0 77 88 44) which provides immediate advice to workers on a range of issues including how health can affect a person's ability to drive lift trucks in the workplace. Advice can be offered on undertaking assessments or investigating a person's fitness to drive a lift truck dependent on possible physical limitations. The medical assessment takes about 30 minutes and includes a general health questionnaire; blood pressure check; hearing, mobility and eyesight testing; and a urine sample to check for diabetes. It also involves a discussion about general health and any recent health problems. The most common health issues to arise from the assessment are high blood pressure or poor eyesight, both of which are easily rectified.

‘Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use' is available to download here.

Alternatively, call 0161 486 2103 if you would like a copy posted to you.

If you have any health and safety questions regarding lift trucks, please remember that your URTU Health & Safety Rep or Regional Officer are there to offer you help and advice.

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