The law as it stands simply has a legal obligation on the part of your employer to make sure that you are competent to operate the machinery that you do use safely.
However, in 1988 the Health and Safety Executive in the UK created an “Approved Code of Practice” that they called “Rider-Operated Lift Trucks: Operator Training”, which outlined what they believed should be the minimum standards to operate a forklift truck in the UK, and it is this (second edition update in 1999) that has ended up being regarded by the industry as the de-facto standard for forklift truck training in the UK.
In practice, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognises training organisations that have met the standards that they stipulate in their requirements; and across the industry receiving a qualification from one of these bodies is generally considered to be necessary by most employers if you want to drive a forklift truck in the UK.
There are currently six (6) organisations that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognises as being accredited in the UK to meet the standards that they have laid down to teach how to safely operate a forklift truck, and these are as follows (in no particular order):
- Lantra Awards – Nationally recognised Awarding Organisation
- CITB – Construction Skills
- AITT – The Association of Industrial Truck Trainers
- ITSSAR– The Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register
- RTITB – Road Transport Industry Training Board
- NPORS – National Plant Operators Registration Scheme Limited
These are essentially training organisations and so they then in turn accredit other training centres to teach the curriculums that they have developed.
If you hear someone talking about “Forklift Truck Certification” in the UK, then what they are really referring to is that you have successfully passed a Forklift Truck course from a training centre that has been accredited by one of these six bodies, which in turn have had their training courses approved by the HSE as meeting the standards they have laid down.
Knowing this, the first thing you should check is that the training centre that you have chosen is properly accredited by one of the above six training organisations.
The curriculums for the six training bodies tend to be very similar when it comes to teaching how to safely operate a forklift truck, but there will be some small differences and so it is worth contacting each of them directly and asking them why you should do their training in preference to one of the other certifying bodies.
It is also worth doing a “Training Provider” search on each of the above websites so that you can specifically gauge a number of different factors which are important to weigh up before embarking on any training, and comparing several different provider on the following criteria:
- Where the training centres are and if they are located close to you? – Closer is obviously more convenient.
- How much experience their instructors have at teaching the courses and if some instructors might be preferable if there is a specific make of forklift truck for example that you want to learn how to use?
- How many types of forklift truck will you get to drive on the course? (There are 9 that are most commonly used)
- The type of equipment that they use and how new is it? (A five year old forklift will inevitably be quite different from newer models)What the differences are between the 3 day courses and 5 day courses that they offer?
- How much they charge?
- If they are able to offer any extra services that can help to set them apart from other centres offering the training, such as assistance with finding a job as a forklift truck operator, or specific industry contacts that may be beneficial to you.
The reality is that these do differ between providers and so it is also a good idea to ask for references or testimonials of people who have completed the courses in the past.
If a training company cannot provide these, or questions why they should, then it is reasonable to wonder why, hear the alarm bells ringing in your head and then swiftly move on to someone else.