Every forklift truck needs to be thoroughly examined to ensure that it is safe. This is the law.
Basically, a thorough examination is a systematic and detailed examination of your forklift and accessories by a competent person, which is carried out to detect any defects that are – or could become – dangerous.
How often must lifting equipment and accessories be thoroughly examined?
First, a couple of definitions.
‘Lifting equipment’ means equipment used for lifting and lowering loads – in this case, your forklift truck.
‘Accessories’ means equipment used for attaching loads to your forklift, for example, slings, hooks, shackles, eyebolts, and so on.
The regulations state that lifting equipment like forklifts must be thoroughly examined at regular intervals of no less than 12 months, and that accessories must be thoroughly examined at regular intervals of no less than 6 months.
In addition, if the equipment does not have an EC Declaration of Conformity less than 12 months old, it must be examined before it is used for the first time. And it must always be examined following ‘exceptional circumstances’ – such as if your forklift is damaged or fails, or has not been in use for a long period.
Who is the right person for the job?
The regulations require that the thorough examination is completed by a ‘competent person’.
A competent person is someone who has enough appropriate knowledge and experience to identify faults or weaknesses and assess how significant they are to the safety and continued use of the equipment.
The competent person may be a suitably qualified member of your own staff, or they can be from a separate company, but they should be sufficiently independent to be able to make impartial decisions. They cannot be the same person who carries out the routine maintenance of your machine.
What happens if faults are found in the lifting equipment?
If the competent person finds a fault in your forklift which is – or could become – a danger to people, they must tell you immediately and confirm this in their examination report. If the fault presents an imminent or existing risk of serious personal injury, they must tell you as soon as possible AND send a copy of their report to the correct enforcing authority, even if the faults are remedied.
Having been informed, you must take action right away to rectify any defect you are told about. If you are told of a serious and significant defect, you must take the forklift out of service without delay until that defect has been put right.
Do I need to have the non-lifting parts of the equipment inspected?
The law requires that all lifting equipment is inspected. This means you need to inspect both the lifting elements as well as the non-lifting elements of your forklift. This includes brakes, lights, and fall-over protection.
If you need further advice, get in touch with the British Industrial Truck Association, the Fork Lift Truck Association or the Safety Assessment Federation.
Meanwhile, keep your staff safe – and yourself on the right side of the law.
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