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12 Sutherland Farm
Tibberton
Newport,
Shropshire
TF10 8NN
Tel 01952 550048
Fax 01952 551149
Email: safety@aes-training.com

Directors
D E & C L Bailey

 

Medical Requirements

The following notes give advice about the medical fitness of operators of rider-operated lift trucks. The standard should be regarded as a guide which can be adapted to individual circumstances.

Each person's fitness for operating a lift truck should always be judged individually. The underlying approach should be to match the requirements of the particular driving task with the fitness and abilities of the driver. For most work a standard equivalent to that of the Group 1 entitlement will be appropriate. In some cases, however, a more stringent standard may be required, for example when moving highly toxic or explosive materials, working in a particularly demanding environment, working at night, or if large, heavy trucks are to be operated. In these instances some or all of the medical standards equivalent to that of Group 2 entitlement may be appropriate.

Applying the principle of individual assessment of fitness should ensure that people with disabilities are not disadvantaged. Some people with disabilities have developed compensatory skills. Reasonable adjustment to work equipment, as can be required by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, may enable a disabled person to operate a lift truck safely. Competence in an emergency must, however, always be considered.

Frequency of assessment

All existing and potential lift truck operators should be screened for fitness before employment and at five-yearly intervals from age 40. Group 2 licences are renewable five yearly from age 45 and where an individual is both a lift truck operator and holds a Group 2 entitlement, these assessments can be made at the same examination. A lift truck operator who continues after age 65 should have annual assessments for fitness.

Assessment is also recommended after an absence of more than one month or after a shorter absence if it is likely that the illness may have affected fitness to operate lift trucks. This assessment is recommended to provide positive confirmation of fitness to operate lift trucks in these circumstances. Fitness to return to work when signed off by a GP may not indicate fitness to operate a lift truck.

Assessment is also appropriate if lift truck operators, or their employers, suspect that they have developed a condition which may affect their continuing ability to operate lift trucks.

It is advisable for employers to agree requirements for medical screening and/or examination of employees, in advance, in a contract of employment.

Fitness to operate lift trucks may be impaired temporarily by the effects of medication, whether prescribed or purchased over the counter. Lift truck operators should seek advice from their general practitioner or the pharmacist about the potential effects any medication may have on their ability to drive safely, and should notify their employer if there is risk of adverse effects which may compromise safety. In some cases it may be necessary for them to stop operating lift trucks until the nature and extent of any side effects has been established.

Lift truck operation should not be carried out in circumstances when either alcohol or drugs have been taken.

The following information was taken from the Approved Code of Practice (Click Here) for fork lift truck operators. Medical advice should be sought if in doubt and a Doctor who is familiar with workplace risk assessment would normally be the most appropriate source of information.

Locomotor

There are no specific restrictions on Group 1 entitlement. Standards will depend on the demands of the job but for lift truck operation there should normally be full movement of the trunk, neck and upper and lower limbs. Stable deformities such as an arthrodesed joint should be assessed according to the effect on functional ability and this may require the advice of a lift truck instructor.

An experienced lift truck operator who loses a limb or part of a limb may be able to continue in employment after suitable retraining.

Diabetes mellitus

When managed by diet alone or treated by tablets this condition is normally acceptable if well controlled, and if there are no complications, for example diabetic eye problems affecting vision. The use of insulin is normally acceptable as long as there is satisfactory control and recognition of warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia. Required visual standards must be met.

Cardiovascular conditions

Ischaemic heart disease

History of a single uncomplicated myocardial infarction is not a bar to lift truck operation, but lift truck operation should cease for at least one month. This should be followed by medical assessment. Lift truck operation may recommence thereafter provided there is no other disqualifying condition.

For angina, lift truck operation should cease until satisfactory control of symptoms is achieved. It will not be a bar unless occurring during lift truck operation or at rest or unless medication produces side effects which may interfere with lift truck operation. Lift truck operation may recommence when satisfactory symptom control is achieved.

A second or complicated myocardial infarction will require careful assessment in the light of residual function, risk factors etc.

Hypertension

Lift truck operation may continue unless treatment causes unacceptable side effects.

Arrhythmia

Lift truck operation must stop with an arrhythmia which may distract the operator's attention or render him or her liable to sudden impairment of cerebral function. Lift truck operation may resume when satisfactory control of symptoms is achieved provided that cardiac function is also satisfactory.

Other conditions

In general lift truck operation should cease for a month after any cardiac event following which fitness should be reassessed.

Other serious cardiac conditions, for example valvular disease with complications such as a history of cerebral ischaemia, are likely to be a bar to lift truck operation. Specialist advice should be sought in all cases of doubt.

Vision

Operators must be able to read in good light (with the aid of glasses or contact lenses if required), a vehicle registration mark at a distance of 20.5 metres, with both eyes together. This corresponds to visual acuity of between 6/9 and 6/12 on the Snellen chart.

Monocular individuals vary in their ability to compensate for their impairment and to operate a lift truck safely. Fitness to operate a lift truck cannot be assumed and, after medical assessment, this should be determined following practical lift truck operating tests. This approach should also be adopted for the experienced operator who becomes monocular after allowing a period of adaptation.

Visual field defects. Lift truck operation should cease unless an operator is confirmed able to meet the recommended national guideline for visual field.

Uncontrolled diplopia will disqualify an individual from operating a lift truck. Resumption may be permitted when satisfactory control of symptoms is achieved. Regular review is recommended.

Nervous system

Vertigo, giddiness and disorders of balance. Lift truck operation should cease on diagnosis. Resumption may be permitted when satisfactory control of symptoms is achieved. Regular review is recommended.

After acute illness, such as a stroke, lift truck operation should cease for at least one month. The extent of recovery should then be assessed. Where recovery is complete then lift truck operation may recommence.

Epilepsy

This will not normally be a bar to lift truck operation where an individual qualifies for an ordinary driving licence (ie has been free from epileptic attack for one year). Any necessary medication should be maintained, and a recurrence of seizures should result in a reassessment. If the individual no longer meets the requirements for a Group 1 entitlement he/she will not be fit for work as a lift truck operator.

Hearing

Hearing defects do not normally affect Group 1 entitlement. However, cases should be assessed individually, taking into account the working environment, materials being handled and other duties associated with the work. If good hearing is thought to be particularly important then this should be assessed audiometrically.

Alcohol and drugs

An individual who is dependent on alcohol or drugs should not operate a lift truck. Where there is such a history there should be a clear period of freedom from dependence of at least one year before employment as a lift truck operator is considered. Medical assessment of fitness to operate a lift truck should then be carried out.

Psychiatric disorders

Suspicion or knowledge of psychiatric disorders should lead to suspension from lift truck operation pending medical assessment. Guidance is complex but advice should be obtained if it is suspected that the candidate suffers under one of the following headings:
(a) Anxiety or depression;
(b) More severe anxiety or depressive illness;
(c) Acute psychotic episodes of any type or cause;
(d) Chronic schizophrenia;
(e) Dementia or any organic brain syndrome;
(f) Learning disability;
(g) Persistent behaviour disorder