In the United Kingdom, there is actually no such thing as a forklift license, even though you’ll often hear people talking about it and even see it mentioned in job adverts. What they actually mean is the requirement to attend accredited forklift driving training. Once you have this, then you are considered to be able to safely use a forklift in the workplace.
However, forklifts can be a real source of danger in the workplace, and so effective training and monitoring are essential to keep everyone safe. And that’s not only for the driver; there is also a real risk to employees and visitors to the site from being struck by a forklift truck.
Ensuring that operators have been trained and understand the safety requirements is essential to a safe working environment. In this guide, we’ll help you to understand the requirements of the training, some of the dangers of using forklifts, and the safety guidelines that every user should follow.
Training is usually carried out in three separate sections –
1. Basic Training
This first part of the training provides the basic knowledge and skills required to operate a lift truck efficiently & safely. Some of this training can be provided prior to practical sessions and delivered in the classroom or via online learning.
2. Specific Job Training
The next stage moves on to developing the knowledge & understanding of the controls and the operating principles of the specific lift truck used within the workplace.
3. Familiarisation Training
The final section provides the opportunity to apply what’s been learned on the job while still being mentored and under supervision.
How Long Should A Basic Forklift Training Course Last?
In the UK, there are no set lengths for the training; however, for someone who has never driven a forklift before, then it’s likely that they will need 3-5 days to meet the requirements for both theoretical knowledge and practical experience.
Operators with some experience with forklifts may need a shorter training period, but it’s important that they understand how to operate the make of forklifts used in the work environment through familiarisation training. Not all forklifts operate in the same way, and this will also be an opportunity to understand the specific requirements of the new warehouse.
The Health and Safety Executive recommends that there the ratio of a trainee to the instructor to truck should be a maximum of 3:1:1. This then enables the instructor to demonstrate the practical training and ensure that each trainee has sufficient time to gain hands-on experience under close supervision.
For theory training, then the ratio of instructor to trainee, may be much higher and be in a classroom-type setting.
Even though the instructor should be assessing trainees throughout the training period, there should also be a test at the finishing of the course. This should allow each person to demonstrate that they have both the theoretical and practical knowledge to operate a forklift safely.
Monitoring, Assessment, And Refresher Training
To maintain safe operation, forklift operators should be regularly monitored in their workplace, with refresher training and retesting carried out to ensure that they continue to use the equipment safely.
While there is no set time period for refresher training, many organizations require this to be carried out every three years. Records are then kept in personnel files to ensure that their staff is current with this requirement.
Forklift accidents are unfortunately quite common and can often be serious or even fatal. The most common causes of forklift accidents are:
- Operator error: despite attending training, the operator makes poor choices and, in doing so, places themselves and others at risk.
- Poor training: even though the operator attended training, it failed to provide them with the skills and knowledge they needed to safely operate the forklift.
- Faulty equipment and poor maintenance: in this situation, the operator was proficient, but faults with the forklift, such as damaged brakes, caused a loss of control resulting in an accident.
Common Injuries Caused By Forklift Accidents
The sheer weight and bulk of a forklift and the fact that they are operated in environments with other users means that there is a high risk of accidents taking place.
The type of injuries most commonly seen are:
- Cuts and bruises
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Head injuries.
If You Are Involved In A Forklift Accident
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident with a forklift, then there are certain steps that you need to take:
- Report the accident to your supervisor
- Seek medical attention if you have been injured
- Ensure an accident form is completed
- Do not move the equipment or try to repair it
- Take photographs of the scene of the accident and also of any injuries that you have suffered. These will be helpful if you need to make a compensation claim.
Making A Compensation Claim
If you have been injured in a forklift accident that wasn’t your fault, then you could be entitled to compensation. It may be that you were the driver or that you were struck by a forklift when in the workplace. The amount of money you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries and how they have affected your life.
To make a claim, you will need to contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in workplace accidents. They will be able to advise you on whether you have a case and also help you to gather the evidence you need to support your claim.
While it might be possible to do this yourself, the expertise and knowledge of a legal team will ensure that you get the compensation you deserve while also ensuring that the claim isn’t put at risk by being undertaken incorrectly.