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To mark its 25th anniversary which it celebrates this year, FB Chain has a number of limited edition 'gold' professional Chain Wear Gauges to give away.

Chain wear gauges are used by engineers and technicians to track chain wear when servicing all types of chain driven equipment from conveyors to forklift trucks and anything in between.

If a chain is shown to have worn excessively it must be replaced.

Designed to overcome the significant problems encountered when attempting to accurately measure a chain for wear, the Chain Wear Gauge's patented design incorporates an easily read scale that enables chain elongation - the most common cause of chain failure - to be measured to within one quarter of one percent.

FB Chain's gauge is widely recognised as the most accurate, reliable and simple to use tool of its kind on the market and is the product recommended by Chas Day of Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) - the joint venture between the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) .

Chas Day, who is an acknowledged expert on the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks in the UK, comments: ""Most chain wear gauges only tell you if a chain is worn or not worn. Using the FB chain wear gauge makes it easy to decide if a chain could be dangerously worn out before the next service, leading to the equipment being operated hazardously. Whenever I have a Thorough Examination manager's course I always recommend that the best chain gauge for the engineers to use is the FB gauge. I consider the FB chain gauge to be the industry standard and, as such, all of the 340 CFTS member companies use the FB Gauge"

FB Chain Wear Gauges have been sold in over 40 countries throughout the world since the instrument was first launched.

Peter Church, managing director of FB Chain Ltd, comments: "Checking a lift truck's chain for wear is essential because excessively worn chains can be lethal. There is no better precision tool on the market for monitoring chain wear than our gauge, which is why, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our company we are delighted to be able to offer the chance to win a limited edition 'gold' gauge."

The family of a man crushed by a forklift truck bucket say his death has torn their lives apart.

The father and son of Darren Baker were speaking after scrap metal firm Ling Metals were fined £200,000 for failing to prevent his death.

Dad-of-three Darren, from Thanington, died in 2007 after a one-ton bucket full of crumbled rubber fell on his head.

The machine's health and safety certificate had expired and Ling Metals had ignored warnings from an engineer four days before.

Brother Stuart, 36, said: "Our lives have been torn apart. I've seen my father and mother in pieces for the last three years and I've had a nervous breakdown.

"Darren's daughter Lily was just nine months old when he died - just a baby.

"He'd always wanted a little girl but now she has to grow up without a daddy.

"But still justice hasn't been done. Someone should be held accountable for causing my brother's death.

"If your car failed an MOT but you still went out and drove it and ended up killing someone, you'd be going to prison for a very long time.

"What's the difference here? It's absolutely disgusting."

Canterbury Crown Court heard Darren had been helping lay a surface for an outdoor riding area in Minster on March 19, 2007.

The bucket came down on his head after machine driver Gavin Lucas failed to use stabilisers to move a load of crumbled rubber and the forklift toppled over.

A safety alarm which should have warned Mr Lucas of the impending danger wasn't working.

Darren was airlifted to hospital but died two days later. The machine was used again before being checked or serviced.

A certificate of thorough examination had expired the previous month and the machine was in such a bad state an engineer was unable to complete repair work.

Ling Metals director Robin Ling was in court on Friday as the company was given six months to pay £200,000 in fines and £11,384 costs.

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 www.thoroughexamination.org – 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.

The current Thorough Examination inspection for forklift trucks does not place sufficient emphasis on checking the chain that controls a truck’s lifting and lowering functions and, as a result, there is a “black hole” in forklift testing procedures that risks compromising forklift operating safety.

That is the view of Phil Taylor, managing director of leading manufacturer and supplier of leaf chain to the materials handling industry, FB Chain Ltd.

“All working forklifts are required to undertake a Thorough Examination every year. Like an MOT for a car, it is a detailed inspection of a truck’s safety related parts,” says Phil Taylor.

He continues: “At present, there is no requirement for the person carrying out the Thorough Examination to see a truck’s Chain Test Certificate – unless they believe that the incorrect chain has been fitted. However, with one forklift chain looking very much like another, it is difficult to detect an inadequate chain from a visual inspection alone. Which is why, in my view, a truck’s Chain Test Certificate should be checked and verified as part of the Thorough Examination inspection process.”

Historically, Chain Certificates were inspected as part of a forklift truck’s annual MOT-type check. However, this changed following the introduction of the CE Marking scheme and the Machinery Directive in the 1990s, as Phil Taylor explains:

“Before the introduction of the CE Mark – which is a truck buyer’s assurance that a forklift  complies with European health, safety and environmental protection legislation – a truck user would receive all relevant test certificates from the manufacturer whenever a new forklift was acquired. This enabled anyone undertaking a forklift examination throughout the truck’s working life to easily check that, if a replacement chain had been fitted to the truck, it matched the specification of the original.

“However, since the arrival of the CE Mark, the truck manufacturer  has simply issued a one-off compliance document to the user that covers everything – including the chain. This means that truck users no longer receive a Chain Test Certificate when they buy a new truck.”

To ensure that a replacement chain is appropriate for the truck it is intended for, Phil Taylor advises truck users to buy from a reputable and well established leaf chain manufacturer or go directly to the manufacturer who supplied the truck in the first place.

“We believe that there has been a big rise in sub-standard leaf chain entering the market in recent years and it is particularly important that truck users select their chain supplier carefully. If a lift truck chain is not adequate and breaks while in use, the Health & Safety Executive will be down on the truck user like a ton of bricks,” warns Phil Taylor.

All replacement forklift truck chains should be supplied with a Chain Test Certificate. The Certificates are issued by chain manufacturers and should show full details of the chain’s minimum breaking load and proof load applied (a test to demonstrate that the chain is capable of supporting at least one and a half times its safe working load weight).

“A forklift chain must be specified with a safe working load in excess of the lifting capacity of the truck it is fitted to,” says Phil Taylor.  “And a chain’s suitability could be easily checked by the competent person carrying out a Thorough Examination if they were shown the test certificate but, at present, there is no legal requirement for this to happen.”

Typically, a forklift truck’s chain will last between three and five years before it has to be replaced due to wear and, like a truck’s tyres and forks, replacement chains are often not covered by service and maintenance packages.

Of the popular sizes of chain that it sells, FB Chain’s products are up to 30 per cent stronger than is required by the international standard which covers forklift chains.

Chas Day, technical manager for Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS), the leading provider of fork lift truck thorough examinations, is not quite so concerned. He told ShD, “It was HSE that removed this requirement, and they would have brought it back if there was a problem. Competent Persons working for CFTS accredited companies carry out a number of physical tests on the chains, as well as visual inspections, and they always have the option of asking to see a certificate if they are in any doubt. In any case, ensuring that a truck is fitted with the correct chain is the responsibility of the manufacturer or dealer. The Competent Person carrying out the thorough examination is responsible for ensuring that the chain that is fitted is safe for use.”

With just a few weeks to go until IMHX, Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) has announced that the number of companies accredited to deliver the UK’s only nationally agreed procedure for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks has surged past the 300 mark.

Revealing news of this new landmark, CFTS Chairman Simon Emery said: “For fork lift truck users, this means that – wherever your operations are based in the UK – there is a CFTS accredited company close at hand to help you ensure your fork lift trucks fully comply with the law.”

Under current legislation, every fork lift truck more than 12 months old must hold a current Report of Thorough Examination… and responsibility for compliance sits with the owner or user of that truck. Even if the truck is on hire, it is still the duty of the user to ensure that a Thorough Examination has been carried out within the correct timescales.

“Developed in close co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the CFTS Thorough Examination scheme is widely acknowledged as the most comprehensive and robust inspection regime for fork lift trucks,” explains Mr Emery.

“The reason is quite simple. CFTS criteria and procedures have been developed by the people who know most about fork lift truck safety – the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) in conjunction with the HSE.

“It is this in-depth understanding of the specialist needs of fork lift trucks that sets this dedicated scheme apart. While other, more generalised programmes address the basic requirements of LOLER 98, the CFTS Thorough Examination procedure is exceptional in that it ensures full compliance with both PUWER 98 and LOLER 98 as they relate specifically to fork lift trucks. This removes the need for duplicate inspections and provides the user with genuine peace of mind.

“Companies accredited to CFTS adhere to a stringent Procedural Code which makes certain that uniformly high standards are maintained. Every firm accepted onto the scheme benefits from an ongoing and unparalleled level of support – including full access to expert technical back-up.”

To discover the real benefits of comprehensive inspection from CFTS, such as enhanced safety and greater productivity, use the CFTS accredited company search facility – available now at www.thoroughexamination.org.

This newly created software is just like a CFTS examination itself: easy to follow, clear and concise. All visitors need to do is enter a postcode and search radius and the CFTS search engine will deliver – in order of proximity – the full contact details of appropriate companies.

A company search by name facility is also available for owners and operators of fork lift trucks who wish to confirm whether their current Thorough Examination provider has been accredited to CFTS.

Leading fork lift truck industry figures have raised concerns that confusion surrounding working platforms may lead British businesses to fall foul of the law.

At Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS), the body responsible for developing and administering the industry's national accreditation scheme for Thorough Examination, a steady stream of queries from fork lift truck users looking for guidance on use of working platforms has prompted a public statement from CFTS Technical Manager Chas Day.

"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."

The laws governing the use of fork lift trucks state 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.

Companies accredited to the CFTS Thorough Examination Scheme benefit from the trade body's expert technical and legislative advice on the complex issues affecting the use of integrated and non-integrated working platforms. LOLER, PUWER, the EU Machinery Directive and the Health and Safety at Work Act each include regulations on the use of these vital pieces of equipment.

"Vigilance during inspections is paramount," explains Chas Day. "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."

He concludes: "The onus is on the user to choose and maintain appropriate equipment to carry out operations safely. Importantly, we are concerned with the Thorough Examination of the fork lift truck and working platform combination as well as the individual attachment."

Developed in co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), CFTS Thorough Examinations have been specifically designed to address the special needs of fork lift trucks.

The CFTS Thorough Examination scheme was established through collaboration between the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) and the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA), the two leading bodies in the fork lift truck industry.

What should it cover?

Not every Examination is Thorough. Our interactive guides shows what must be checked, and why.

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What should it cover