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15th April 2020

The Health & Safety Executive Confirm Position on Fork Lift Truck Operatives During COVID-19 Outbreak

Rider operated lift trucks should only be operated by persons who are deemed competent to do so and have received the appropriate training.

That is the position that all organisations need to follow when considering who to allow to utilise their lift trucks during the current Coronavirus outbreak.

This does not alter from the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) existing guidance.

Existing competent persons

In order to demonstrate competence, operatives will generally have a certificate of training which provides a record of suitable instruction and demonstration of operation. Generally, these certificates will carry an expiry date and, despite their best efforts, employers and operatives may not be able to source appropriate training to requalify in the current pandemic.

As employers, there is no specific law stipulating a time period after which refresher training or a formal reassessment is required.

Employers do however have a legal duty to monitor and supervise their operatives and therefore to determine as and when competence needs to be questioned. In instances of this, appropriate action should be taken which would involve the requirement to re-train. This could be in the wake of an accident whereby an operative has acted irresponsibly or against standard safe working procedures, for example.

Where employers do follow the expiry dates on operatives’ training certificates, it may be prudent to implement an extension to these dates within the organisation’s training matrix. The Fork Lift Truck Association have recommended a period of no more than 3 months and that employers implementing such extensions should be able to ‘state clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training… they should also be able to demonstrate that they are meeting their legal duty to monitor and supervise lift truck drivers to ensure that they continue to operate safely’.

New operative training

There may be instances during the outbreak where new operatives are required for lift trucks, either due to alteration of staff rotas for social distancing purposes, or new employees taken on to fulfil demand in those industries that are keeping key supplies available for the country.

In all instances, the requirement for competency remains, meaning that all operatives and employers should be able to produce evidence of their competence by way of certification for the appropriate formal training in the use of the equipment in question.

The HSE recognise that this may be logistically difficult for industries with Key Workers and have therefore addressed the lift truck training provider industry, asking them to prioritise their work accordingly.

As with any contractor, training providers should follow COVID-19 contractor control procedures whilst visiting customer locations and implement the appropriate infection control measures and safe working procedures at their own facilities as guided by Public Health England.

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