Frequently Asked Questions
The following represent many of the questions we are frequently asked both by Employers and Employees in relation to materials handling training.
How often do I have to take a re-test for my fork lift licence?
There is nothing laid down in law about this but the Approved Code of Practice states that "refresher training should be given". For this reason, many employers arrange for refresher training and re-testing at somewhere between 3 and 5 year intervals. In the event of an accident the authorities would want to know when the operators involved were last trained and if that was a very long time ago, a court may deem that it has been too long and that refresher training should have been given.
What is a fork lift licence anyway?
There is no such thing as a licence to operate a fork lift! Many people refer to their certificate of basic training as a "licence" but this is not the case. The certificate that we issue to successful candidates on our courses is properly known as a "Certificate of Basic Training" and is accepted as proof that the holder has attended an accredited training course and passed the fork lift test. Many people think it is like a car licence but this is not the case and never has been.
What is the small white card that I was given used for?
First, it is not proof of basic training as required by law. The legislation requires that companies give written authority for people to operate trucks on their premises. We supply these cards, which people tend to call "permits", to facilitate them doing this. In addition, its easier to carry around than the larger A4 size certificate.
I have lost my licence, can you supply another?
Our contract is with the company who paid for the training! We will consider supplying a replacement certificate if we are asked to do so directly by the customer. Please note that we reserve the right to make a small charge for this and in normal circumstances we would not supply replacement certificates for training that was conducted more than 5 years earlier.
I passed my test on a small truck but now I drive a larger one. Do I have to take another test?
A difficult question which requires a little common sense to answer. If the new truck is only a little bigger than the one on which a person was trained and providing the control layout is not too different then the answer is normally yes. If in doubt you are advised to seek the views of your local Factory Inspector.
Does a licence for a counterbalanced truck allow me to drive a reach truck?
No. You must take a further course of training and be tested on a reach truck. This is also true for any other sort of machine such as order picker, pallet truck etc.
Can I take my licence to another company to get a job?
The certificate of basic training is recognised as proof that a person has attended an approved course and passed the practical and written tests. For this reason most prospective employers will accept it as long as it is not too old. Please note that we cannot make your old employer give you the certificate!
Can I use my truck on the public highway?
This is a very complicated subject. For a complete write up on this click here.
Is it compulsory to wear a seat belt when I am driving my truck?
It depends on the type of truck and the application into which it is put. Click here for full details of this subject.
I went on a one day training course to get my certificate/licence. Is this OK?
There are two cases where a one day course would suffice. The first is for previously trained operators who are in need of refresher training. This would have a maximum of three persons attending. The other occasion where one day would be sufficient is where one experienced operator is in need of formal training and testing. The RTITB approve a course of 7 hours duration for this type of candidate. All other training should meet with the minimum accredited recomended training durations as described elsewhere on this site.
How long does it take to train a person who has never sat on a truck before?
The standard novice course is 5 days in duration with 3 persons attending, 4 days for 2 persons and 3 days for just one person.
I have lots of experience but no licence. How long will my course be?
A safety refresher course for existing users is usually 2 or 3 days duration depending upon the number attending the course.
How long is a course for re-tests?
One day with a maximum of 3 persons attending.
Does it help if I can already drive a car?
It helps to some extent in as much as your perception of distances and the like will be probably be better than a non car driver. You should however, be aware that the rear wheel steering on a fork lift can actually cause confusion for car drivers!
Do I have any responsibilities as an operator under current health and safety legislation?
Yes. Under sections 7 and 8 of the Health and Safety at Work Act all employees are responsible for the health and safety of themselves and of other persons. In addition they have a legal duty to co-operate with the employer as far as health and safety is concerned. Employees can face court proceedings for a breach of Health and Safety rules.
What responsibilities in law does my employer have for my safety?
A large number of laws apply to employers the most important of which is the Health and safety at Work Act. Employers must take all steps which are "reasonable and practicable" to ensure the safety of their employees. Some typical prosecutions can be if you click here.
I have been driving trucks for a long time without an accident. Why should I be trained?
We all get "unlucky" from time to time. If you do have an accident your employer can be prosecuted for failing to provide adequate training.
My instructor was from a place called ITTSAR. I thought the RTITB was the governing body?
There are a few accrediting bodies of which the RTITB is the most well known because it was the first to exist back in 1972. ITTSAR is an accrediting body too and all such bodies should use the same training course content and the same test.
What is an accrediting body anyway?
All approved training companies must be registered with an accrediting body and have their courses approved by them. The HSE authorities recognise that training conducted by an accredited training company will normally be conducted to the highest standard although there are several "cowboy" training companies around who cut corners in order to reduce prices. These should obviously be avoided and you can phone the accrediting body to establish if the course you are being offered actually complies with requirements.
I had a near miss when I was driving my truck but no-one was injured. Do I have to report it?
Yes. You should report it to your immediate supervisor who will take the appropriate action. Under the RIDDOR regulations even "near misses" should be reported.
I am an in house instructor working for a company. Can I go and train fork lift operators at another company?
In theory yes but you must not claim that you are accredited to do this work. Since most companies are likely to require accredited training from an outside source its unlikely that you would be asked. You can. of course, train at another branch of the company where you are employed.
Does an in house instructor need a refresher course?
Yes. After 5 years as a maximum but we recommend earlier if possible due to changes in legislation that occurs from time to time.
I have heard that the fork lift test uses a "penalty point" system. How does this work?
Every time you make a mistake during your test you incur penalty points. At the end of the test these are added together and you must not score more than 40. 41 points is a failure.
Whose responsibility is it to check the truck over and when should this be done?
Normally it is the operators job and this should be done either at the start of every working day or the start of each shift in multi-shift applications. Some companies have a different arrangement and if this is the case you should obviously comply with this.
Will I have to take a written test as well as a practical one?
Yes but don't worry if English is not your first language. Just mention it to your instructor and you will be given the questions orally.
The test course my colleagues used recently looked a bit different to mine. Why is this?
Sometimes, because of obstructions and the like, the course cannot be built exactly as before and therefore you may see a "mirror image" of it. The actual test however is the same.
I have to do other things apart from stacking in racking. Do I need any further training in order to do this?
Yes. Your training is not fully completed until you have completed all 3 stages of training as described in the Approved Code of Practice.
I drive a 3 wheel truck and I have been told that 4 wheel trucks are more stable. Is this true?
No. because of the way trucks are tested for stability, 3 wheel trucks are just as stable as 4 wheelers. So long as you obey the rules taught in training they are perfectly stable.
How common are fork lift accidents? How many are there in a year?
Transport accidents are one of the most common types in industry and on average there are about 8000 fork lift accidents with 20 fatal ones in the UK every year. These facts about health and safety at work may be of interest.
What are the most common reasons for fork truck accidents?
They are many and varied but two stand out. Lack of all round observation and falling from height. Trucks overturning are easily the most scary and dangerous for the operator.
Do I need a medical before I operate a fork lift truck?
Yes and you also need regular check ups when you reach the age of 45 and at certain other times. For more advice on the medical requirements for fork lift truck operators click here.