Thorough Examination & Corporate Manslaughter

2 August 2011

When times are hard and cash flow is poor, it might become tempting to save a little time and money by delaying your truck’s next Thorough Examination. After all, nobody ever checks them, do they? asks Simon Emery, chairman of Consolidated Fork Truck Services.

Think again. The Corporate Manslaughter Act (CMA) makes it more important than ever before to ensure your fork lift trucks have valid Reports of Thorough Examination.

Imagine one of your operators loses control of his fork lift truck, striking high level racking, another operative or a member of the public. An enforcing investigator would want to see a copy of the Report of Thorough Examination for the truck involved – as well as all of your other trucks, and probably maintenance documents too. Could your fleet stand up to this sort of scrutiny?

Companies can now be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures amounting to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care.

Whether you buy your fork lift truck or hire it, long term or short term, you have a legal – and moral – responsibility to ensure it has a current Report of Thorough Examination. Users should never assume that someone else has taken care of that responsibility.

Counting the costs

Doing so could be an expensive mistake. Under the CMA, failure to comply with legislation could result in fines of up to 10 per cent of a firm’s annual turnover. While most large companies could withstand a financial hit of this size, its effects could be terminal for many small businesses.

The courts also hold the power to impose publicity orders, where a company must pay to advertise the details of the conviction. A sanction such as this would have a negative impact upon businesses of any size. Remedial orders can also be levied, which force a company to demonstrate that corrective measures have been taken within the organisation.

So, who is most at risk from prosecutions? While large corporations are not immune, it’s more likely for the directors and senior managers of small and medium-sized businesses to wind up in court. With hands-on and day-to-day involvement in their organisations, these individuals are easier to convict. What’s more, prosecutions of individuals are far more common than ever before – reflecting the political will to hold individuals accountable after any major incident.

Peace of mind

To be certain of complying fully with the law we recommend that you obtain your Thorough Examinations through companies accredited to the Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) Thorough Examination scheme.

CFTS was formed as a joint venture company between the UK fork lift truck industry’s two leading bodies: the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA).

Developed in close co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the CFTS Thorough Examination scheme was specifically designed to address the special needs of fork lift trucks. The laws governing the use of fork lift trucks state that any machine over 12 months old – including hire trucks – must hold a current Report of Thorough Examination. Quite often, the time interval between Thorough Examinations may be six months or less.

Accredited companies benefit from the two trade bodies expert technical and legislative advice on the complex issues, such as those affecting the use of integrated and non-integrated working platforms (see item right). Under their stringent Procedural Code, these companies are obliged to provide:

  • A report of Thorough Examination complying with LOLER 98 and PUWER 98.
  • A checklist specifying what has been checked and recording any comments made.
  • A Thorough Examination Certificate to keep with the truck’s documents.
  • A sticker, affixed to the truck, to show the month and year when the next Thorough Examination is due.

CFTS criteria and procedures have been developed by the people who know most about fork lift safety – the FLTA, BITA and the HSE. What’s more, this scheme is a dedicated one, designed to address the special needs of fork lift trucks, and not a general one that attempts to cover many different types of equipment.

Signposting excellence

More and more managers are discovering the real benefits of comprehensive inspection from CFTS, such as enhanced safety and greater productivity. To save them time and minimise confusion, our accredited company postcode search facility – available at – is just like a CFTS Thorough Examination itself: easy to follow, clear and concise.

To immediately locate a CFTS accredited company in your area, simply enter your postcode and a search radius. The CFTS search engine will quickly deliver – in order of proximity – the full contact details of appropriate companies. Of course, you can also search for companies by name.

Since launching in 2004, more than 250 companies have been accredited to the CFTS Thorough Examination scheme. These firms cover the length and breadth of the UK: from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

Wherever you are, there is a CFTS accredited company close by – a company committed to the CFTS scheme’s standards, ready and willing to give you its dependable advice, expertise and high-quality service.

Lower your risk at height

Confusion surrounding the Thorough Examination of working platforms may be causing British businesses to fall foul of the law. At CFTS we receive a steady stream of queries from concerned fork lift truck users looking for guidance on their use.

First and foremost, fork lift trucks are designed to lift materials – not people. Working platforms, or man-up cages, allow personnel to work at height. Despite their simple design and deployment, it’s crucial to remember that working at height is a high-risk activity. Importantly, the onus is on the fork lift truck user to choose and maintain appropriate equipment to carry out operations safely.

There is a wide body of legislation on this subject. LOLER, PUWER, the EU Machinery Directive and the Health and Safety at Work Act each include regulations affecting the use of these vital pieces of equipment.

Current fork lift truck legislation requires that any machine over 12 months old must hold a current Report of Thorough Examination. On top of this, LOLER Regulation 9 sets out that lifting equipment used for the lifting of people, including fork lift trucks and working platforms used for working at height, must be thoroughly examined by a Competent Person at least once every six months. The most concise and up to date information is contained in HSE Guidance Note PM28, edition 3.

Vigilance during inspections is paramount. From the truck’s data plate to its safety harness, a Competent Person should thoroughly inspect your working platform to ensure compliance with the law. The Thorough Examination should include inspection of the fork lift truck and working platform combination as well as the individual attachment itself.