Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions regarding Thorough Examination and CFTS. 

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CFTS is a joint venture between:

The British Industrial Truck Association (BITA)
The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA)

These are the two major industry trade organisations in materials handling. They represent manufacturers, dealers and suppliers of related products, as well as the actual users of equipment covered by Thorough Examination regulations.

They are also the acknowledged experts on Thorough Examination of lift trucks.

They developed the CFTS scheme in close association with the Health and Safety Executive and in consultation with the whole industry.

The CFTS keystones are:

  • a definitive examination process agreed by the industry
  • a Quality Assurance Procedural Code
  • an effective accreditation process

Quite simply, CFTS was created to ensure uniformly high standards of Thorough Examinations in order to improve safety across the whole of British industry.

Documentation associated with the scheme bears a distinctive CFTS mark. This is the mark of quality in Thorough Examinations.

Only accredited companies that have committed to adhering to the strict Quality Assurance Procedural Code are allowed to use this mark.

A Thorough Examination is the name given to the mandatory inspection required by law to ensure that the mechanical parts of a lift truck are in safe working order. It is roughly equivalent to the MOT for cars.

Both a Thorough Examination and an MOT are means of certifying that, at the time of testing, all components which have a bearing on safety have been formally inspected and assessed as being in a safe condition.

Thorough Examination is distinctly separate from a truck's regular maintenance programme (even though some of the same items are included in both regimes). It is not part of maintenance — it is an examination embedded in legislation. As a result, a Thorough Examination would not normally be included in a maintenance agreement, unless specifically requested.

Yes. It is required under two pieces of Health and Safety legislation:

LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) — which covers lifting components.

PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) — which deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres.

Importantly, however, the CFTS scheme for Thorough Examination does more than just meet the minimum legal requirements. It covers LOLER and PUWER, and includes a 34-point assessment of attachments.

Every truck you have in service, including hired trucks, must have a current Report of Thorough Examination. This is akin to the MOT certificate.

The document must be headed Report of Thorough Examination.

It must comply with Schedule 1 of LOLER.

You must be able to produce it when required to do so by an enforcement officer.

The responsibility for obtaining this Report of Thorough Examination lies with the employer of the truck operator (whether you own, lease or hire it on a long-term basis). If the truck is provided on a short-term contract of less than a year, the hiring company should provide you with a copy of the current Report of Thorough Examination.

At least every 12 months. Depending on the application, the intensity of use and the nature of any attachments, the regulations may require this interval to be reduced to 6 or even 4 months.

The engineer carrying out the Thorough Examination — the 'Competent Person' — will be able to determine the appropriate interval.

The same person should also be consulted for advice on whether planned changes to the truck's operation or configuration will alter this interval.

The items checked under LOLER, include:

  • mast
  • chains
  • carriage
  • forks
  • tilt mechanism

The items checked under PUWER include:

  • overhead guard
  • steering
  • seat mountings
  • tyres
  • brakes

Detailed measurements are taken to identify wear and damage to chains and forks.

Particularly attention is paid to components such as:

  • chain-retaining bolts
  • mast
  • carriage

The intensity of examination — and the time taken — depends on the equipment.

If the defects do not immediately affect safety, a Report of Thorough Examination will still be issued. However, it will identify the defects and state a time by which they must be rectified. The user is responsible for ensuring that the necessary repairs are undertaken within that time.

If the defects are imminently dangerous, the report will state that the equipment must not be used until they have been rectified. This report will normally be copied to the relevant enforcing authority.

Someone designated as a Competent Person under the terms of the regulations. To be designated, the examiner must have had appropriate experience and training.

After close consultation and wide-ranging investigation, BITA and the FLTA concluded that Thorough Examinations were not being delivered comprehensively and effectively. With no regulation, standards varied greatly between examiners. Often the examinations were limited in scope. These were serious deficiencies and it was clear that a much more stringent scheme was needed to fulfil the requirements of the LOLER and PUWER legislation.

The FLTA and BITA have been the leading authorities on Thorough Examination ever since its introduction.

BITA produced BITA Guidance Note GN 28. This explains in detail how Thorough Examination of a lift ruck should be conducted and includes a checklist for the Competent Person. It has been used as the basis for the CFTS Thorough Examinations. The BITA checklist has become part of the formal documentation used in the CFTS scheme.

The FLTA's work in promoting and explaining Thorough Examination has included the special training of nearly 3,000 engineers, now deployed by FLTA members. In addition, it prepared an FLTA Technical Bulletin on the subject, aimed at educating the users of lift trucks. The FLTA also produced Report of Thorough Examination forms, which have now been remodelled to meet the needs of the CFTS scheme.

First of all, it should be recognised that only people and organisations with close involvement in working with work equipment can claim the necessary intimate knowledge to deliver Thorough Examinations effectively.

The new system was developed to offer a single definitive process — and resulting quality mark — that had the backing of the two industry trade organisations dedicated to setting and raising standards.

Importantly, it was developed in full co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive.

Drawing together the relevant requirements from the extensive and complex LOLER and PUWER legislation, and interpreting them precisely in relation to work equipment, was a major undertaking for the FLTA and BITA. It took some 18 months of hard effort — individually and in partnership — to achieve the desired result. HSE was involved throughout this process.

No. Only accredited companies are entitled to use the CFTS certification. They gain the right to do so by establishing their competence and committing themselves to following all of the approved processes. They must be open to independent assessment and to a complaints procedure. The strict standards ensured by the CFTS scheme only apply to Thorough Examinations conducted by these accredited companies.

The application procedure requires each company to supply detailed information about the staff who will be involved in the Thorough Examination process, right down to depot level, and the procedures they will use.

It must also demonstrate that it has the necessary equipment, facilities and training programmes. If its application is accepted, it must agree to:

  • Abide by the strict Quality Assurance Procedural Code
  • Allow inspection of its work by CFTS
  • Respect the decisions of arbitration
  • Use the official CFTS documentation

The Procedural Code sets rigorous standards on all aspects of the Thorough Examination process, including:

  • Independence, impartiality and integrity
  • Organisation and management
  • Administration and record keeping
  • Personnel issues, including qualifications and training
  • Duties of the Thorough Examinations Manager
  • How to conduct a Thorough Examination
  • Quality procedures for all of the above

The Code also includes a complaints procedure.

The CFTS partners have worked together closely to set up a national scheme which delivers all of the safety objectives of a Thorough Examination. It also covers additional inspections across areas known to be necessary for safe operation. Few outside the industry can claim such authority and familiarity with the examination procedure and commitment to its aims. No other scheme has the full backing of the relevant industry trade associations.

CFTS-accredited engineers have the in-depth knowledge to identify and categorise defects more clearly than examiners from a broader background. Their training as Competent Persons includes a demanding course on Thorough Examination and they must meet nationally agreed criteria in this role. Correspondingly high levels of training and experience are also required of their managers.

Crucially, companies conducting Thorough Examinations under the CFTS scheme will have been obliged to sign up to every aspect of the Procedural Code. There are no half measures.

By choosing a CFTS accredited company can you be sure that the Thorough Examination will meet the highest standards. It's what you would expect from the FLTA and BITA, whose members already adhere to very rigorous Codes of Practice… guaranteeing peace of mind for the customer.

Yes. As an end user, you will be gaining the endorsement of an authoritative and high-profile safety initiative whose distinctive CFTS Thorough Examination stamp of approval will be instantly recognisable throughout British industry. This mark will help to give immediate credibility to related documentation and will appear on a sticker attached to every truck which has received a Thorough Examination through the scheme. The sticker shows when the next Thorough Examination is due.

And remember, this is a certification and quality mark, not just an exercise in branding. As such, it carries real authority.

By displaying the CFTS Thorough Examination mark on your truck, and being able to show the CFTS-endorsed documents, you will be making a clear statement to your customers and staff that your company is committed to safety. The mark will be your — and your customers' — guarantee of excellence and confidence.

Unlike a car, a truck cannot easily be taken to a testing centre. The inspector must come to site. The distance and time involved in travelling, which will vary between inspections, must be reflected in the price. The time taken for the inspection will depend upon the type of equipment being examined. Work equipment is much more diverse in its construction and use than cars, so it's impossible to standardise on the time taken for an examination. Again, this affects the cost to the examining company and hence the cost to the customer.

No. Insurance companies have no legal right to insist that their own inspectors carry out your Thorough Examinations. You are perfectly at liberty to make your own arrangements.

The competent person can carry out the service and Thorough Examination on the same visit. They must, however, carry out the Thorough Examination first and document their findings. They are then allowed under LOLER regulation 9 to carry out subsequent repairs or servicing.

The competent person draws on years of knowledge, experience and training to determine if a piece of equipment is ‘safe for use’. You have the right to challenge their findings and to seek clarification but failure to address these findings could be in contravention of LOLER regulations and lead to large fines or even a court appearance.

The competent person has a duty to inform the relevant enforcing authority if, in their opinion, the equipment poses an ‘existing or imminent risk of serious personal injury’.

This procedure comes under LOLER Reg 10 and is usually used for reference purposes only. The HSE or local authority are highly unlikely to make a site visit based on receiving one report.

An up-to-date register of accredited companies that are currently delivering the CFTS scheme is contained on this website. To help you find your most appropriate inspector, this list is broken down into national providers and local ones by region. To find the list click here.