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If you oversee fork lift operations you’ll be familiar with the term ‘Thorough Examination’, but what does it actually mean? Not knowing could come at a heavy cost, according to CFTS, the body that established a UK standard for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks.

CFTS Chairman Geoff Martin explains: “Recent changes to legislation mean that, as an employer, you need to understand what it is, why it’s required and, most important of all, what it means in practice.”

To help you keep your operations safe and legal, CFTS has identified the 9 things you need to know about Thorough Examination (but may have been afraid to ask…) 


  1. What is a Thorough Examination?

A Thorough Examination is an essential, mandatory check to ensure that your trucks are in safe working order. In simple terms, you can think of a Thorough Examination as being the fork lift truck equivalent of an MOT. It is not the same as any regular checks your trucks may have as part of scheduled service plan.

It is required by law, and covers two different sets of Health and Safety regulation(s): LOLER 98 and PUWER 98. The LOLER and PUWER legislation covers different areas of a truck’s operation, so a truck that passes LOLER 98 could still leave you liable under PUWER 98, and vice versa. This is why a Thorough Examination is paramount. It means you’re completely covered.


  1. Why is it so important now?

The costs for non-compliance are higher than they ever have been. With the introduction of the Fee for Intervention, updates to L117, and increased fines for individuals under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, it’s never been more pressing for managers and supervisors to be fully aware of what’s required and making sure they comply.


  1. How often do you need one?

At least once every 12 months is stated in legislation, though under LOLER 98 this could be more frequently, depending on how, when, and where the truck is used.


  1. What parts of the fork lift must be checked by law?

LOLER 98 covers the lifting parts of the truck, as well as lifting accessories. PUWER 98 — which is generally less understood by forklift owners — covers the risks associated with the non-lifting parts of the truck, such as brakes and steering.

CFTS developed a standardised test that covers both PUWER and LOLER so you can be confident your truck is covered under the law


  1. Who is responsible for ensuring your truck has a valid Report of Thorough Examination?

If the truck is owned outright or is on a long-term hire of 12-months or more then the responsibility is on the truck’s owner or leaser/user. When a truck is hired for less than a year, the rental company has the responsibility of arranging the Thorough Examination.

However, whether you hire a truck for a day or a year, you should insist that a copy of the truck’s Report of Thorough Examination is included with the rental documentation. That way you can be satisfied that your employees are operating a truck that is safe and legal. 

Importantly, a fork lift should also have a valid Thorough Examination report whenever it changes hands: either temporarily or permanently.


  1. What if I fail to comply?

Non-compliance with LOLER 98 and PUWER 98 comes at a heavy cost. You run the risk of prosecution and financial penalties, as well as putting your workforce at risk of serious injury – even death.


  1. What is CFTS?

The FLTA (Fork Lift Truck Association) and BITA (British Industrial Truck Association), the UK’s leading authorities, came together, in consultation with the HSE, to establish CFTS: delivering a safe, national, quality-controlled process for Thorough Examination.

Over the last 12 years, the number of CFTS-accredited companies in the national network has passed 450 and continues to grow. You can identify a CFTS-accredited company by the distinctive kitemark on their literature, certification, reports, and truck stickers (as only companies officially accredited are allowed to use this mark).


  1. What types of industrial trucks can be inspected by CFTS accredited companies?

The CFTS Thorough Examination standard has been developed to cover the widest range of lift trucks, including counterbalance trucks, telehandlers, rough terrain trucks, man-up models, and reach trucks.

A recent initiative introduced a rigorous 34-point Thorough Examination quality-controlled procedure specifically for attachments. The new criteria includes separate inspections of the security of attachment mounts, winch and chain brake tests, chain and sling wear checks, damage inspections, checks on wear plates and warning signs, along with an entirely new checklists to cover platforms, safety cages and tail lifts.


  1. Why CFTS?

With a CFTS-accredited Thorough Examination check you can be assured that your Thorough Examination check will be of the highest standard, as few outside of the industry can claim such authority and familiarity with the procedure as a combination of the FLTA and BITA working with the HSE.

As legislation changes, so will we, so you can always be confident that a CFTS-accredited Thorough Examination will ensure you’re thoroughly covered, and so are your trucks.


CFTS has appointed David Callis, Ecobat’s Special Project Manager, to its board.

Chairman of CFTS, Geoff Martin, said: “We are all extremely pleased to have David joining us on the Board. With over 30 years’ experience in quite a specialised part of the industry he’s going to be a valuable addition, bringing with him, as he does, a great amount of knowledge and expertise.”

David Callis joined the industry in 1985 as Regional Sales Manager for Chloride Motive Power in Crawley. He later joined Hawker as National Account Manager before moving to Powercell in 2005 to become their Operations Director.

He took up the role of Special Projects Manager when Powercell was purchased by Ecobat Technologies and is responsible for all energy management and handling projects.

David said: “It’s a great honour to join the Board. CFTS play a hugely important role in the industry and is a key driver in pushing the industry towards ensuring every single working fork lift is safe to operate.”


Free, helpful advice on the importance of a Thorough Examination that fully applies with the law

CFTS knows how much of a worry it can be making sure your trucks keep up with all the relevant pieces of legislation. That’s why CFTS will be on hand throughout IMHX 2019 to answer questions from visitors.

Whether you’d like to know more about the quality-controlled Thorough Examination process, where you stand on LOLER and PUWER, or even how to get accredited to the scheme, CFTS Technical Managers Shaun Prendergast and Matthew Kennedy will be available and ready to help.

Shaun explains: “IMHX is a key event in the logistics calendar and brings together fork lift truck users, dealers and manufacturers in one location.

“There’s still a lot of confusion regarding the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks so, while it may seem a long way off, it is vital that we attend so that we can offer guidance to anyone who needs it.”

IMHX takes place at the Birmigham NEC from 24-27 September, 2019.

New laminated leaflets from Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) explain why – particularly in agriculture and construction – where accident rates continue to be high – Thorough Examination is as essential for rough terrain trucks and telehandlers as it is for fork lift trucks.


Each illustrates the difference between a LOLER-only Thorough Examination, which may focus on the lifting parts of the trucks, and the CFTS approach – which looks at the safe use of the whole vehicle – in line with PUWER. 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

Thorough examination of industrial lift trucks is required under health and safety law: LOLER 1998, which covers lifting equipment, and PUWER 1998, which deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres.

While LOLER covers lifting equipment, safety inspections under PUWER look at all other safety-related items – including the brakes, steering and tyre.

CFTS Chairman Geoff Martin said: “There is considerable confusion surrounding the Thorough Examination of telehandlers and rough terrain fork lift trucks.

“Many, for example, believe that this statutory requirement is included in regular servicing. While many more are unsure of how often it’s required and what items should be checked as part of it. Working in such a challenging environment, it’s vital for truck users to be aware of these issues.

“A full Thorough Examination – covering not just LOLER 98, but PUWER 98 too – is a central part of lift truck safety, and it’s essential that anybody running one understands what’s involved.”

The two opposing sides of the double-sided laminated leaflet are designed to clearly illustrate the difference between a LOLER-only Thorough Examination, which focuses on the lifting parts of the truck, and the CFTS approach, which ensures the whole vehicle is safe to use.

With more than 450 companies throughout the UK accredited to carry out CFTS, owners of telehandlers and rough terrain trucks will have someone close at hand  with the experience and resources to help them work safely and legally. 

Find your local CFTS-accredited company, here.


When it comes to ensuring fork lift trucks comply with LOLER and PUWER, more and more companies are adopting CFTS Thorough Examinations as their standard of choice…

But, according to CFTS, even Thorough Examinations need thorough examinations to guarantee confident compliance for truck users. 

CFTS Technical Manager North Shaun Prendergast explains: “A Thorough Examination is about much more than the inspection itself.  We pride ourselves on offering a truly comprehensive inspection. That’s why we demand that our accredited companies work to an agreed, quality-controlled, continuously assessed process.

“For example, anyone involved in the administrative aspects of Thorough Examination management – whether it’s processing paperwork or reminding users of their next inspection date – must have completed a CFTS Thorough Examination Manager course.

“This meets the specific needs of managers and their deputies: identifying their responsibilities; giving a detailed analysis of the CFTS Quality Assurance Procedural Code and explaining what that means in practice.”

CFTS has also taken steps to ensure that Competent Persons employed by accredited companies comply with the law.

Shaun explains: “HSE guidance (INDG422) states that Competent Persons should be ‘sufficiently independent and impartial to make objective decisions’.

“It’s perfectly legal for the same engineer who carries out routine maintenance to carry out the Thorough Examination itself, but to ensure they meet the law, we demand our accredited companies carry out a risk assessment. Doing this shows what measures are in place to ensure independence and impartiality. In addition, it indicates that there are steps in place to ensure that this is not normal practice.

 “We also require that Thorough Examinations are carried out before any routine maintenance or repairs. That way documentation is completed on equipment in unrepaired condition.”

Regulation 10 of LOLER demands that any defects identified during a Thorough Examination which may involve an existing or imminent risk of serious personal injury – even if remedied within 24 hours – are reported to the local HSE office or HSE representative at the local council.

Shaun adds: “Neglecting this duty, simply because it’s been fixed ‘on the spot’, disguises a potentially dangerous situation – placing lives and limbs at risk.

“A Thorough Examination needs to be just that — thorough. That’s why we’re continuously looking at improving the standard which we work to.”


Quality-controlled process appeals to companies from the UK and beyond

CFTS, the body behind the national standard for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks, has expanded to include organisations from Cyprus, Jersey, and Eire…giving them even wider recognition as a standard for comprehensive inspection.

In 2016, CFTS accredited 37 new organisations, among them: Jersey’s Department of Infrastructure, Cyprus’ Y. Skembedjis & Sons, Isle of Man’s GF Forktrucks Ltd and Lynch & McCarthy and Dungarvan Mechanical Services from Ireland.

The CFTS Thorough Examination is an established standard in the fork truck industry as its quality-controlled process ensures trucks comply with both LOLER 98 and PUWER 98 legislation.

Regular testing of examiners, backed by strict checks to ensure their independence, ensures tests are carried out to the highest standard – offering truck users confident compliance.

CFTS Technical Manager North Shaun Prendergast said: “The CFTS Thorough Examination has been developed by the authorities on fork lift truck operations – BITA and the FLTA – in consultation with the HSE.

“For more than a decade, we’ve worked hard to enhance our Thorough Examination criteria, so that truck users operate safely, productively and legally. We’re pleased to see it being recognised further afield.

“And because it has been born from UK safety legislation – which is among the world’s most stringent – having this standard adopted overseas will assist in raising safety levels across the board.”


Using a chain gauge

The danger of accidents caused by chain wear is one of the most pressing reasons why the HSE first introduced LOLER inspections and, subsequently, the even more exacting procedure for Through Examination. The question is: how best can chain wear be monitored and measured?

The answer is clear, according to Mike Mathias, Chairman of CFTS, the accrediting body for the 450+ members of the national scheme for carrying out Thorough Examinations on materials handling equipment of almost every type.

“When checking for chain wear and elongation we require our members to use a precision, self-calibrating chain wear gauge. It is our view that measurements obtained using a steel rule or tape offer greater scope for error, so cannot be guaranteed deliver accurate, reliable and replicable results.

“Insisting on an accurate chain gauge is one of the operational methods that differentiates CFTS Thorough Examinations from most others.”

CFTS favours the chain gauge because its V-shaped jaws always give positive location on the pins, so that readings are always from the pin’s centre. This means results are both consistent and repeatable. 

By contrast, using a tape or steel rule requires a totally steady hand, along with very precise visual alignment, which, depending on the position of the inspector’s eyes, can result in a parallax error. In the field this makes it almost impossible to achieve genuine consistency 

Mike continues: “The need for accuracy is crucial because 0.25% wear measures just 0.75mm over 300mm. This can be the difference between an acceptable level of wear and a truck being taken out of commission.

“Our examiners report that the chain gauge is also very customer-friendly,” explains Mike.  “Because the percentage wear is directly visible in a window, everyone can clearly see the results clearly and understand the full extent of chain wear. By contrast, using a tape or rule means the inspector has to work out a complicated calculation: (X=(L-(PxN)) x100 / (PxN) where P= the pitch of the chain; N= pitches measured; L= measured length and X= percentage wear).

“Requiring the use of a self-care chain gauge is just one example of the methodology that sets CFTS Thorough Examinations apart. Anyone who sees our examiners on-site will notice that they come fully equipped to examine all key components on the truck (including steering, brakes etc) not just the lifting gear.

“That’s because CFTS examinations cover both LOLER and PUWER – as recommended by the HSE. So you’ll often seen a CFTS examiner jacking up the truck, using an A-frame ladder to check the chain in crucial areas, such as where it passes over the mast rollers.

“It’s all part of our drive to ensure that lift trucks are fit for purpose, protecting not only those who work on and around trucks but the company itself.”

Geoff Martin has been appointed chairman of CFTS – the UK’s first national scheme for the Thorough Examination of fork lift and warehouse trucks. In doing so he succeeds Mike Mathias, Managing Director of Toyota Material Handling UK.

A director of Jofson Limited, Mitsubishi approved dealers for the Midlands and Manchester regions, Geoff Martin has worked in the materials handling industry for more than two decades and is also a director of the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA).

“It is a privilege to be appointed chairman of the CFTS board,” said Mr Martin. “Our quality controlled procedure has earned the respect of fork lift owners and operators across the country who look upon the CFTS kite-mark as clear evidence that their trucks are safe, legal and comply fully with HSE requirements.

“I would like to thank my predecessor Mike Mathias for all his commitment and hard work as CFTS continues to go from strength to strength. We now have more than four hundred and fifty companies accredited to the CFTS scheme with more joining all the time.  It is vital that we provide the support they need to provide the best possible service and to monitor quality standards so we retain our pre-eminent position among the truck using public.

“An example of that drive for ever higher standards was seen recently with the introduction of an expanded and enhanced version of the CFTS inspection checklist introduced specifically to monitor the safety of temporary attachments. Working with leading attachment manufacturers and suppliers we have devised specific inspections for the security of attachment mounts along with winch and chain brake tests, checks for chain and sling wear, inspections for damage, checks on wear plates and warning signs, as well as an entirely new checklist to cover platforms, safety cages and tail lifts.”

Mr Martin concludes: “I intend to build on Mike Mathias’ outstanding contribution and work closely with the CFTS team to deliver even greater support to our accredited companies and the highest possible quality of Through Examinations to those who own and operate forklift trucks.”

Strict testing criteria for fork lift truck Thorough Examinations ensures compliance and worker safety, advises CFTS.

Recent legislative changes, with more emphasis on punishment, mean that ensuring your equipment complies with the law is more important than ever before, according to CFTS, the body behind the national standard for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks and related transport.

With managers and directors overseeing operations at risk of violating the law and in danger of life threatening accidents, CFTS is continuously looking for ways to ensure that the wear, efficiency and performance of lift trucks are measured and recorded precisely to protect British companies.

CFTS Chairman Mike Mathias explains: “CFTS Thorough Examinations require competent inspectors to perform accurate physical examinations on key components. With CFTS, there is no room for guesswork.”

Set up as a joint initiative between the Fork Lift Truck Association and the British Industrial Truck Association, CFTS is responsible for the comprehensive procedure and strict code of practice for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks. It is followed by the scheme’s national network of more than 450 accredited Thorough Examination providers.

He continues: “Consider a fork lift truck’s chains as one example. They are a vital component of a truck’s lifting mechanism. Every CFTS examiner is required to use an accurate chain gauge that judges wear and tear precisely – with results that can be replicated.

“They also carry other equipment essential for accessing key components such as a jack for checking the brakes and steering, or A-frame ladders to inspect chain wear at the top of the mast where it passes over the rollers – arguably the most crucial area for wear and faults. It’s this kind of intensive and exhaustive inspection that sets CFTS apart.

“CFTS Thorough Examinations also ensure the truck meets the rigorous demands of LOLER 98, which covers lifting components, such as the forks and chains, as well as PUWER 98, which governs other critical safety items such as brakes, steering and tyres.

“To protect employers and those working with and alongside fork lift trucks, our 33-point Thorough Examination standard was specially developed for compliance and consistency – so employers can be confident that their trucks are working safely and within the law wherever they are in the UK.”

Mr Mathias concludes: “By specifying a CFTS-accredited examination be assured that you are fulfilling your responsibilities to comply with the law and protect your staff.”

A series of new interactive online guides from CFTS explain the importance of comprehensive Through Examination – not just for counterbalance forklifts, but telehandlers, rough terrain, man-up, and reach trucks too.

Available here, these straightforward guides clearly illustrate – at a glance – which components truck users must have checked in order to fulfil their obligations under both LOLER '98 and PUWER '98.

Thorough examination of industrial lift trucks is required under health and safety law. As the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says: "LOLER 1998 covers lifting equipment, and PUWER 1998 deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres. Your regular inspections as part of a preventive maintenance scheme or scheduled service are not a thorough examination."

There is still considerable confusion surrounding the Thorough Examination of different types of lift truck. The new interactive guides make it very clear what must be checked under both LOLER and PUWER regulations, illustrating why comprehensive thorough examination – incorporating both sets of checks – is so important.

CFTS Chairman Mike Mathias said: "Initially, we printed vehicle-specific, laminated leaflets to help CFTS-accredited companies explain Thorough Examination to their customers.

"These proved to be incredibly popular – with many customers asking to keep them for reference – so we decided to make this important information freely and easily accessible to all, online.

"There’s a common misconception that the legally-required inspection is covered by regular servicing. Still more are unsure of how often it’s required and what items should be covered.

"Working with intrinsically hazardous equipment, it’s vital that users of lift trucks, of all types, understand the importance of comprehensive inspections and are aware of what needs to be checked.

"These new online guides should leave people in no doubt."

With more than 400 accredited UK companies, CFTS Thorough Examinations are available throughout the whole country. To find a local CFTS-accredited company, type your postcode into our online search facility, or you can find and explore the interactive guides yourself here.

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