One of the problems that instructors and training companies come across is the general lack of knowledge in industry relating to fork lift operator training and testing. Over the years, several myths have built up around the subject and this web site seeks to put some of those right.
First let's deal with the forklift truck licence or license. There is a lot of confusion about this as, in reality, there is no such thing as a " forklift licence". Everyone refers to it as a licence including employers and job advertisements but in fact it is called a certificate of training and is issued to all those who attend a training course and pass the test described on this site. A person does not need a licence to operate a fork lift truck: at least not in the same way as one requires a car licence. You do, however, have to be trained in order to comply with section 2 (c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and also the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, (PUWER). The proof that a person has attended a training course is in the form of a certificate which will be supplied by the training company involved. It is this document that is usually called a licence as its easier to refer to it in that manner.
Some training companies also issue a small plastic covered card - sometimes with a photograph attached - but this is just for the convenience of their customers. These are much less significant in law because they are not worded in the same way as a certificate of basic training. If an operator has one however, s/he should make sure that it is kept safe as it is proof that training has been carried out and it may be accepted by a new employer, at least to start with. In addition, if an operator works away from his/her main place of employment it can be used to show the new company that the person has been trained. Many companies employing outside contractors will insist on seeing such a document before they will allow a person to operate trucks on their premises.
The A4 sized certificate that one receives should be preserved at all cost as this is the forklift "licence". Note that this is normally issued to companies and it is up to the employer to decide whether or not to give it to the employee. (The HSE prefer employers to issue this to their employees but one does not have a legal right to demand it from an employer). It should also be noted that if it gets lost it may not be easy to obtain a replacement if at all.
When a certificate is issued to a successful operator it should not use the word "Competence". It should read "Certificate of training".
The whole point about the certificate of training is that it proves, or is supposed to prove, that the person has attended a course of training of correct duration for their experience and truck type and has passed all parts of the test at the end of it. This is the document that the authorities will want to see in the event of an accident or near miss reported under the RIDDOR regulation.
When considering forklift training bear in mind that, in theory anyone can train someone to drive a forklift truck. After all, it's just like a car isn't it?
The problem is that, although anyone can train someone else, it is very likely that the company who arranged for this to happen would leave themselves open to a prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act, section 2 (c) and regulation 9 of PUWER in the event of an accident.
The act states that employers must take all reasonable practicable steps to ensure that employees are safe and that training has been carried out. By utilising another truck driver to conduct the training, (which is still practiced by some employers), a company runs the risk that the experienced operator will either teach the newcomer bad habits or will fail to teach them important safety facts. In addition, the Approved Code of Practice for the training of operators has been around since April 1989 and this too emphasises the need for proper training to be carried out and also details the three stages of forklift training.
Re-training of forklift operators
I often get asked about re-tests: i.e. are they mandatory and after how long?
The 2005 Workplace Transport Regulations states that they are mandatory. In addition, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations calls for refresher froklift training.
It is not possible to say that refresher courses MUST be done after three years as the time frame is not laid down in any legislation. What can be stated is that, following an accident, an investigating officer would want to know how long it had been since training had been conducted and if it was too long it could influence the prosecution case.