Frequently Asked Questions

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

Please click on a question to reveal the answer... or, alternatively, click here to find a local accredited company or competent person near you.
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 the Thorough Examination regulations.

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

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

Its keystones are:
  • a definitive examination process agreed by the industry
  • a Quality Assurance Procedural Code
  • an effective accreditation process
Quite simply, the scheme's aim is to ensure uniformly high standards in implementation of Thorough Examination... and to improve safety across the whole of British industry.

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

Its reassuring appearance calls to mind other industrial safety 'kite marks'.

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

Thorough Examination is a bit like a car's MOT.

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.

Just as a car's MOT and 10,000 mile service are two different things, so Thorough Examination is distinctly separate from a truck's regular maintenance programme (even though in both cars and trucks 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, 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 98 (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) - which covers lifting components.

PUWER 98 (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 new accredited scheme for Thorough Examination does more than just meet the minimum legal requirements.

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 only exceptions are brand new trucks, although these must be subject to Thorough Examination at some point within a year of their acquisition.)

The document must be headed Report of Thorough Examination.

It must comply with Schedule 1 of LOLER 98.

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 you, the user of the truck (whether you own, lease or hire). The only exception may be for a truck operating under a short-term contract of less than a year, in which case 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 person 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 include...

under LOLER 98, lifting parts such as:
  • mast
  • chains
  • carriage
  • forks
  • tilt mechanism
under PUWER 98, other parts such as
  • overhead guard
  • steering
  • seat mountings
  • tyres
  • brakes
Detailed measurements are taken to identify wear and damage to chains and forks.

Particularly close inspection is made of components such as:
  • chain-retaining bolts
  • mast
  • carriage
The intensity of examination - and the time taken - is much greater than in an MOT.

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 local 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 Examination was not being delivered comprehensively and effectively throughout industry. 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 fork lift truck should be conducted and includes a checklist for the Competent Person. It has been used as the basis for the CFTS Thorough Examination. 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 fork 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 fork lifts can claim the necessary intimate knowledge to deliver Thorough Examination 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 in the fork lift truck industry.

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 98 and PUWER 98 legislation, and interpreting them precisely in relation to fork trucks, 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 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.

Accredited fork lift truck engineers will 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 - similar to a car tax disc - attached to every truck which has received a Thorough Examination through the scheme. The disc shows clearly when the next Thorough Examination is due.

And remember, this is a certification mark and a 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's symbolic 'fork lift tick' will be your - and your customers' - guarantee of excellence and confidence.

Unlike a car, a fork lift truck cannot easily be taken to a testing centre. The inspector must come to the fork lift truck. 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. Materials handling 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.

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.

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