What should employers look for when hiring a forklift operator and checking that a Certificate of Basic Training is genuine?
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fork lift trucks are involved in about a quarter of all workplace transport accidents.
To help reduce this, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) state that forklift operators must receive adequate training. But, with four different accrediting bodies and hundreds of training organisations working outside of the accreditation system, it can be difficult for employers and recruitment agencies to know if someone is properly trained to operate a fork lift truck.
Potential employees must hold evidence of adequate Basic Training. “There is no legal requirement to issue certificates,” explains Laura Nelson, Managing Director of leading workplace transport accrediting body, RTITB. “But if a certificate is not issued, the individual should provide other evidence of training (a training record and test marking sheets, for example) when applying for jobs.”
A copy of any certificate of training should be included in the employee’s records. The first step is to verify whether the certificate itself is authentic.
Search online to check whether the company that issued the certificate is legitimate. It is worth noting that according to the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance for operator training and safe use, L117, which has special legal status, a (S)QCF/NVQ qualification is not a substitute for a Certificate of Basic Training.
Does the training company state that it is accredited by an accrediting body, such as RTITB, ITSSAR, AITT or NPORS? If so, always ask them for confirmation of authenticity, as Laura Nelson explains. “In the past 18 months alone RTITB has contacted more than 60 unaccredited organisations that are falsely issuing certificates claiming RTITB Accreditation,” she says.
If the company is not accredited, find out who the instructor qualified with. Look on the certificate for an instructor registration number and make contact to verify authenticity. The HSE’s ACOP clearly states that “operator training should only be carried out by instructors who themselves have undergone appropriate training in instructional techniques and skills assessment”. It also says that instructors “should give instruction only on the types of lift truck and attachments for which they have been trained and successfully tested as operators”.
The certificate should include particular details such as the dates of training and when the test was passed, as well as the type of machine the operator has been trained on, the rated capacity and lift height. This information is required to establish whether further training is needed before employment. Conversion training will be required, for example, if the machine type detailed on the certificate is different to the equipment used on site, or if there is a significant difference between the load capacity, energy type or attachments.
Check whether the document looks like it could have been altered in any way. Perhaps the training dates, or type of equipment listed,
could have been altered to fit in with the job requirements.
Employers can simplify this process by using RTITB trained operators. All RTITB trained operators are issued with a 9-digit NORS (National Operator Registration Scheme) number that can be quickly and easily verified by RTITB, who can provide details of training and advise whether conversion training is needed. To use this service, employers can call the RTITB team on +44(0)1952 520200, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In addition, RTITB training aims to go beyond the minimum legal requirements,” adds Laura Nelson. “So every RTITB operator has been trained to be efficient for businesses, as well as safe.”
Whatever the certificate says, it is important to assess an operator before authorising them to operate equipment on site. Specific job training (including controls and fuel type) should be completed for the truck they will be required to operate and familiarisation training (supervised operation on site) will get the operators used to the site protocols and the loads being handled.