Fork lift trucks: your rental responsibilities
Cut through the confusion about your legal liabilities when you hire a fork lift truck with this handy guide to Thorough Examinations.
In recent years, the legal pressures on hirers of fork lift trucks has grown significantly following the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (2007).
This has been compounded further with the HSE’s new FFI (Fee for Intervention) recovery scheme, which gives the HSE the right to charge companies for the cost of carrying out an inspection.
If you breach the law in your duties to your fork lift truck employees, either knowingly or unwittingly, you could face prosecution, large fees, heavy fines and even career-ending imprisonment.
To protect yourself against these risks, hirers of fork lift trucks must always consistently work to standards that unambiguously satisfy legal regulations.
Your legal obligations as a hirer of fork lift trucks
A recent survey carried out by the Fork Lift Truck Association revealed that 84% of managers who hire fork lift trucks incorrectly believe the hire company is accountable for ensuring their truck holds a current Report of Thorough Examination.
In fact, the obligation lies with the hirer.
Mike Mathias, Chairman of national Thorough Examination standards organisation CFTS, explains the facts: “Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), the employer of a fork lift truck operator has a duty of care to make sure that a fork lift truck is safe to use.
“When a truck is owned outright by the employer, the employer must arrange a regular Thorough Examination schedule appropriate to the truck and its use.
“However, these days a large proportion of industrial trucks are supplied through long-term hire or lease arrangements. Many of these hirers may incorrectly assume that this mandatory obligation is covered by the maintenance contract… it is not.
“When a truck is hired or leased long term, employers remain duty-bound to ensure that lift trucks are safe for their employees to use and are thoroughly examined at the appropriate intervals.”
The law in a nutshell
In legal terms, there is no single piece of legislation that deals with the Thorough Examination and inspection of fork lift trucks. Instead, they are covered by two separate pieces of legislation.
The HSE states: “Thorough Examination of industrial lift trucks is required under health and safety law: LOLER 1998, which covers lifting equipment, and PUWER 1998, which deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres.”
Despite the legislation spelling out quite clearly that both LOLER and PUWER are required by law, there is still a fair amount of room for interpretation, leaving individual providers able to decide exactly what should and shouldn’t be included in a Thorough Examination.
As a result, not all Thorough Examinations are the same. Despite the best intentions of managers and supervisors, this lack of consistency means vital safety checks may be missed, rendering the fork truck potentially dangerous and in breach of the law.