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Following news that a North London meat company has been fined for failing to carry out routine inspections, Mike Mathias of CFTS – the national body for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks – has warned that there could be many thousands of trucks operating illegally.

MIB United Meat Ltd, of Enfield, Middlesex, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after admitting three breaches of safety legislation.

The court heard that, on asking to see the vehicle examination records for the company’s 2.5-tonne counterbalance forklift truck, an HSE inspector received a document via email which proved to be a fraud.

HSE found that the fork lift truck had never been examined – as required by safety rules for lifting equipment – since being purchased in August 2011.

A specialist mechanical inspector from HSE, who examined the fork truck in April 2013, found more than 40 faults, including some that could have endangered its operator.

MIB was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £2,314 in full costs.

But, according to CFTS, this infringement could simply be the tip of the iceberg – with well in excess of 300,000 masted fork lift trucks believed to be in current operation.

CFTS Chairman Mike Mathias explained: “Although shocking, this case is not as exceptional as it should be. There are many truck operators who are unaware of their responsibilities.”

According to the 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.”

Mr Mathias adds: “Just like a car’s MOT, every fork truck needs a Thorough Examination at least every 12 months – and it could be even more frequent depending on the type of truck and the individual application.

“I would urge anyone who is unsure of their position to visit the CFTS website where they can find out which parts of the fork lift truck should be inspected and how often a Thorough Examination is necessary. 

"In addition, they can find out where to get further advice from CFTS-accredited companies in their area.”

CFTS lends support to managers and supervisors following L117 update

Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) is urging managers and supervisors to be vigilant when it comes to Thorough Examination.

As the body responsible for the fork lift truck industry’s national accreditation scheme and standards in relation to Thorough Examination, CFTS is also drawing attention to the latest official guidelines following a spate of management prosecutions.

CFTS Chairman Mike Mathias explains: “In the Health and Safety Executive’s updated fork lift truck safety guidance document, management’s duty to ensure a safe working environment is highlighted.

“Thorough Examination is one of the areas of responsibility specifically covered by the revised documentation.”

Entitled “Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (L117)”, the guidance clarifies what is expected of those in charge of operations and work sites.

“There is a serious risk of prosecution for those who fail to meet the required safety standards. In addition, managers and supervisors may also find their companies subject to fees which the HSE can charge, under recently granted powers, for its intervention to resolve material breaches of the law.”

To help managers and supervisors avoid this situation with their Thorough Examination, contains clear and concise advice, as well as a member finder app which signposts visitors to CFTS accredited companies in their area.

“These specialists are fully equipped to advise fork lift truck users on any issue related to their Thorough Examination obligations,” said Mike Mathias.

“Better still, if you choose to obtain your Thorough Examinations through a CFTS-accredited company – and there are more than 400 of them UK-wide – you can be sure of consistently high standards of inspection and ongoing support, which will make Thorough Examination much less of a worry.”

Thorough Examination body appoints Mike Mathias as new Chairman

Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) has announced the appointment of Mike Mathias, of Toyota Material Handling UK, as its new Chairman. He takes over from Richard Hayes of Brindley Lift Trucks, whose two-year term of office has seen continued growth and success.

CFTS will be ten years old this year and Mike Mathias is keen to highlight what has been achieved in that time.

"It’s worth reminding ourselves that ten years ago there was no common standard for this vital and legally required safety procedure. Individual inspectors could decide for themselves what aspects of a fork lift truck should be covered and how rigorous the examination should be.

"Thanks to CFTS we can offer comprehensive, consistently high-quality Thorough Examinations that cover the requirements of both LOLER and PUWER, developed specifically for fork lift trucks and backed by a strict code of practice. 

"We now have more than 400 companies accredited to the scheme, allowing customers, wherever they are in the UK, to benefit from the peace of mind that comes with the CFTS ‘kite’ certification mark.

"Since that launch our commitment to increasing user awareness of the need for high standards in Thorough Examination, and to supporting accredited companies with expert advice and training, has gone from strength to strength.

"Increasingly our emphasis has been on making advice and guidance available to those responsible for fork lift trucks online… and to that end I would encourage everyone to explore the CFTS website in more detail to take advantage of this advice."

Toyota Material Handling UK, for which Mike has been Managing Director since 2007, is a keen advocate and national provider of CFTS-accredited Thorough Examination. Mike also holds managerial roles with Toyota in The Netherlands, Belgium and Poland.

He brings with him a wealth of materials handling industry experience spanning almost four decades. Having started out as an engineering apprentice, his extensive knowledge has been built through a wealth of service, technical, sales, aftersales and management positions.

As well as being a Board Member of CFTS, he is a Director of BITA (British Industrial Truck Association), which joined forces with the FLTA to create CFTS.

CFTS leaflet explains conflicting approaches to forklift safety inspections

A simple laminated leaflet, created to help fork lift engineers and competent persons explain the importance of a truly Thorough Examination has needed to be reprinted – because so many operators, owners and users of fork lift trucks asked to keep it!

Originally, Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) distributed the information to its 425 accredited member companies to act as a talking point with customers. However, following an enthusiastic response, it will be made available more widely.

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.

CFTS Chairman Richard Hayes said: “Research shows most fork lift owners and operators of fork lift trucks simply assume their regular Thorough Examination has checked the whole truck.

“This could lead to a potentially unsafe situation as it may mean the brakes, the tyres, the counterbalance fittings – in fact, over a dozen vital safety aspects – never get checked.

“Ironically, although Thorough Examination is set out in LOLER 98, that failure to ensure the whole truck is safe could land you in trouble under PUWER 98.

“This leaflet is great, because it makes it really clear: one side shows what's covered as a bare minimum legal LOLER 98 Thorough Examination. The other shows the standard CFTS checks. It really speaks for itself.

“We thought the laminated leaflet would be useful for competent persons, to show why Thorough Examination isn't something you can rush. But managers have asked to keep them so many times, we've had to print more!”

For more information on the CFTS standard for Thorough Examination, check out the interactive guide on this website, here.

Toyota Material Handling UK Managing Director is Appointed to the Board

CFTS welcome Mike Mathias, of Toyota Material Handling UK, to its Board and acknowledge Toyota’s campaigning support.

CFTS Chairman Richard Hayes says: “Over the past couple of years, Toyota, who is a national provider of Thorough Examination, has been particularly active in raising awareness of the important safety and legal issues surrounding Thorough Examination.

“Its efforts have included contacting truck owners, designing supporting literature and generally taking every opportunity to educate truck users on why CFTS-accredited Thorough Examination is the safe choice. Further still, Toyota team members have reinforced the message by wearing CFTS-branded hi-vis vests promoting Toyota Thorough Examination.”

Managing Director of Toyota Material Handling UK since 2007, Mike Mathias has nearly four decades of experience in the materials handling industry. Since starting out as an engineering apprentice, his extensive knowledge has been built up through working in a variety of service, technical, sales, after sales and management roles.

In addition to his UK role, Mike is Chairman of Toyota Material Handling Netherlands and Belgium, and a Director for Toyota Material Handling Poland.

He is also a Director of BITA (British Industrial Truck Association), which in collaboration with the FLTA (Fork Lift Truck Association) set up CFTS (Consolidated Fork Truck Services) to establish the industry’s Thorough Examination procedure and administer its accreditation scheme.

Following news of the HSE’s latest prosecution against an employer operating a fork lift truck with infringements under LOLER and PUWER, an industry expert has urged users to think twice before delaying inspections and maintenance.

Hearing news of the HSE’s second successful prosecution this year, Richard Hayes, Chairman of CFTS, the delivery body for the UK’s national standard for the thorough inspection of fork trucks said: “Ignoring this legal and moral duty is not a good policy for your industrial equipment and, furthermore, it’s not legal – as a number of fork lift truck users have found to their cost this year.”

In the most recent case, involving an Essex-based steel fabrication firm, HSE investigators found that the company’s fork lift had not had a Thorough Examination for more than 12 months. Furthermore, it had been kept in continuous use – despite showing obvious signs of disrepair.

The HSE’s report revealed that no fewer than 18 of the 24 key items examined on the truck required urgent repair. Defects included: worn-out tyres, loose counterweight and non-functioning lamps and beacons.

CFTS, which administers the fork lift truck industry’s own national Thorough Examination accreditation scheme, points out that not all inspections offered to fork lift users would have picked up on these issues. 

“Due to the nature of their design, fork lift trucks are covered by two separate pieces of legislation – each of which has its own testing criteria,” explains Richard.

“The parts comprising a truck’s lifting mechanism are covered separately by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 98, which requires a Thorough Examination of all lifting apparatus at least once every 12 months.

 “Under the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 98, employers must ensure that safety-critical parts such as those cited by the HSE report undergo regular, recorded safety inspections.

“A LOLER-only inspection would have picked up defects in lifting components such as forks and chains but would not have checked vital aspects covered by PUWER – such as brakes, steering and safety equipment,” explained Richard, “and the majority of companies are still carrying out LOLER-only inspections.

“To be certain of full legal compliance, we recommend CFTS-accredited Thorough Examinations – which have been developed by the fork lift industry itself with the support of HSE… to meet the Thorough Examination demands of LOLER and the Safety Inspection requirements of PUWER.”

The company was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £3,238 in costs for putting its workers at risk through breaches of LOLER 1998 and PUWER 1998.

“Sadly, this is not an isolated case,” said Richard. “Earlier this year a slate and stone supplier was fined for breaching PUWER. Once again, courts heard that the company’s practice had been to repair only in response to breakdowns.”

HSE investigators reported that the truck had not been properly maintained and that the two sets of bearings holding the forks in line had collapsed.

“Routine maintenance is essential to maximising your truck’s lifespan and efficiency, and it can help to highlight potentially dangerous faults. However, users should be clear that a comprehensive Thorough Examination – which checks the truck in accordance to LOLER and PUWER – is something they need in addition to maintenance. Just as a car needs an MOT test and a routine service, you must have both.”

The Health & Safety Executive has fined an Essex construction company for putting workers at risk by neglecting to check and maintain a potentially dangerous piece of lifting equipment.

In April, Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard that a forklift truck belonging to Aveley Construction Ltd was heavily used at the company’s South Ockendon premises for more than 12 months without any kind of thorough examination.

It is a legal requirement to check such equipment at least once a year, yet the truck, used to move heavy steel fabrications, was kept in continuous use for well over a year despite showing obvious signs of disrepair.

Magistrates were told that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out on 23 June 2011 found that when the truck was eventually examined only six items out of 24 that formed the basis of the report were marked "satisfactory". The remaining 18 items were classed as "repair needed".

Defects included worn out tyres, flashing beacons and lamps not working and a loose counter-weight.

The company was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £3,238 in costs after admitting single breaches of the Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

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You wouldn’t wear half a suit… but every year thousands of companies get stitched up anyway by accepting half a Thorough Examination of their fork lift trucks, according to research from Consolidated Fork Truck Services – the body behind the industry’s Thorough Examination standard. 

This year's IMHX (Hall 19 - Stand H74) will see the launch of a major, national campaign warning fork lift truck managers of the dangers of so-called “Thorough” Examinations that only cover a truck's lifting parts and promises to use surprise tactics to shock managers out of their complacency.

According to CFTS, many examinations still only test a fork lift truck's lifting components, neglecting safety-critical parts like steering and brakes.

It is hoped the eye-catching “half measures” campaign will capture companies' attention, after CFTS research showed that the majority of managers are completely unaware of this widespread threat.

CFTS believes the problem, which affects tens of thousands of sites, to be particularly prevalent where Thorough Examination is arranged as part of an annual insurance inspection.

Technically, inspecting lifting parts only does fulfil minimum obligations under LOLER 98 lifting regulations. However, companies remain open to prosecution under PUWER 98 rules if the vehicle as a whole is found to be unsafe.

CFTS is the national Thorough Examination standard that covers the entire fork lift truck.

“Just because you've had a so-called Thorough Examination, doesn't mean your fork lift truck is safe,” says CFTS Chairman Richard Hayes. “Managers need to be on top of what's being checked and – crucially – what isn't. Because it's you who's liable.

“Ask yourself: is it fair to ask your colleagues to operate a two, three, four-tonne truck where the tyres or the brakes haven't been tested? No, of course not.  

“That's why it's essential to insist on a CFTS-accredited Thorough Examination. It's the national standard guaranteed to test the whole truck. 

“It’s the positive way to be sure you're covered for both LOLER and PUWER, and, ultimately, that the truck really is safe to use.”

CFTS's “Half Measures” campaign will be launched at IMHX 2013 - Hall 19 Stand H74.

Two recent rogue trading horror stories have highlighted the dangers of buying secondhand fork lift trucks online… and the absolute need to make sure any fork lift you buy has a current Report of Thorough Examination.

The truck pictured here, which was bought from an online trader at a ‘bargain’ price, proved to be unfit for purpose. Aside from some very obvious physical defects, it also struggled to start from cold and clearly had not received a service for some time.

Seeking to return the truck and recover his deposit, which amounted to half of the asking price, the new owner was told by the dealer that only an eighth of it would be refundable. The rest would be used to pay for transport and labour costs relating to a mast swap he had requested.

The customer’s local Trading Standards department advised him to contact CFTS (Consolidated Fork Truck Services) for advice.  A CFTS inspection revealed a catalogue of serious faults.

The truck would certainly have failed the legally obligatory Thorough Examination and – as you will probably have guessed – was sold without a Report of Thorough Examination.

In another case, reported by the Fork Lift Truck Association, a truck condemned and sent off for scrap by an FLTA member was subsequently resurrected by an online trader and sold as ‘refurbished’ and in ‘as new condition’.  Needless to say, it soon stopped working.

Again, the truck was sold without a valid Report of Thorough Examination or a warranty.

“Ask yourself whether you would buy a secondhand car without a current MOT,” says CFTS Chairman Richard Hayes.  “There is no guarantee that any car will continue to run perfectly, but an MOT gives at least some assurance of its condition.  The same can be said, but even more so, for a fork lift truck and its Report of Thorough Examination.

“Buying online requires special caution.  Do you know anything about the company and its reputation?  Does it belong to a trade association with a strict code of practice?  Will the truck be supplied with a warranty and a valid Report of Thorough Examination?

“In fact, insisting on a current Report of Thorough Examination is not just a sensible precaution – it’s a legal obligation.  Whenever you take possession of a fork lift truck, or receive one under any kind of lease, hire or loan arrangement, you are responsible for ensuring that it has this vital document.  My advice would be to demand a Report of Thorough Examination for the date the transaction is completed.”

A Wakefield company has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to keep a forklift in good working order.

On 28 May 2010, HSE found that a forklift at Traditional Slate and Stone Supplies of Horbury Bridge had not been properly maintained and that two sets of bearings holding the forks in line had collapsed. This put employees working around the forklift in danger. 

HSE found that, while the forklift had been repaired numerous times the previous year, the company's maintenance regime was simply to repair in response to breakdowns. 

At Wakefield Magistrates Court, 9 January 2013, the company was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £4,138 in costs after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Neil Hope-Collins said: "This shows the potential dangers of relying solely on fixing things when they go wrong. All machinery should be maintained regularly to ensure it is safe to work with and near. That means looking for signs of wear and tear before they lead to an accident."

Story from the HSE.

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What should it cover