They assume it’s really simple and that no special training is required.
However, the facts are that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK reports that over any five year period there are over 20,000 injuries in the UK that involve forklift trucks (21,290 between 2001 and 2006).
Of those injured between 2001 – 2006:
- 15,438 (75%) needed to take time off work for over three days
- 5,758 were classed as “major” accidents
- 94 were fatalities
In fact, about a quarter (24%) of ALL workplace accidents that involve vehicles in the UK include forklift trucks.
So, given these facts it is easier to see why fork lift truck training in the UK is not something that employers and individuals should take lightly.
We recommend that you look through our web site and take particular notice of the other UK based forklift related articles where you will find more detailed and useful information.
Below are a few pages that people have identified useful:
- UK Forklift Certification Requirements
- UK Forklift Training Costs
- UK Forklift Jobs
- UK Forklift Refresher Training
- And much more…
The basic requirements for forklift training in the UK are set down as:
1/ Basic Training
This is where the basic knowledge and skills needed to safely operate a forklift truck in accordance with the HSE guidelines are learned.
Typically these courses would run for either three or five days and combine both theoretical and practical elements, as well as more general issues related to safe work practices when working with industrial machinery.
A “novice” forklift training course (without any previous experience) would usually last 5 days.
2/ Specific Job Training
This is related to the fact that all workplace and loading situations are different, and so you may need to be familiar with certain ways of working, or certain specific handling requirements (as well as different types of forklift truck) in order to handle the machine safely.
3/ Familiarisation Training
This is a little different, because it may be that you already have extensive experience with driving forklift trucks, but simply need to become familiar with the equipment and how things are done in a new job for example.
The HSE lays down that stages 1/ and 2/ should be carried out “off the job”, in order that the operator doesn’t feel the pressures of their normal work while they are learning.
Stage 3/ has to be carried out while the operator is at work, but it is still emphasised that they need to be closely supervised as they are after all still learning.
It is also important to realise that forklift trucks are generally used on private premises and not on the public highway, and so a different set of criteria comes into play if they do need to be used on the roads.
Minimum Age Requirements
On public roads in the UK the road traffic legislation stipulates that a truck driver’s minimum age is based on the weight of the truck.
- for a truck up to 3.5 tonnes (including the weight of the forklift and its load) the minimum age is 17,
- up to 7.5 tonnes it is 18 years of age, and
- for equipment that is heavier than this it is 21 years of age.
You would also need the relevant drivers licence for whatever category of trucks that you want to drive on the public highway.
For driving a forklift on private land it is typically the case that most training providers will only train drivers of 18 years or older, and for “operators of lift trucks on dock premises” this age-cap is specifically stated.
However, the HSE guidelines do not explicitly forbid drivers of 16 plus for other uses of forklift training (assuming they have the “necessary competence and maturity”), simply stating that “children under minimum school leaving age should never operate lift trucks”.
It is worth noting that the HSE Guidelines were last updated in 1999 when the school leaving age was 16 in the UK, but that since then this has risen to 18, without an update to the guidelines (as-of January 2013).
In effect, given a strict legal interpretation of the wording of the guidelines, the minimum age to drive a forklift truck in the UK has now then also risen to 18.
It should be pointed out though that these are “guidelines”, not laws, and 16 is still generally taken as the absolute lowest age that anyone should be trained as a forklift operator.
(Including by the governments own careers advice service, which specifically states for a forklift truck operator:
“The minimum age to start training is 16. If you operate a forklift truck on a public road, traffic legislation applies and you must hold a valid driving licence.”)
Clearly the legal situation could do with clarification then, but in practice common sense has tended to work fine to distinguish those over 16 who have the “necessary competence and maturity” to be trained as forklift operators.
Employers also need to consider whether there are any insurance considerations as there maybe age limits.
- Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – safety guide called “Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator Training” You can download a free copy HERE