A call to arms

Fork lift leaders urge users to be aware of worn and dangerous forks

Leading fork lift truck industry figures have voiced their concerns over a materials handling hazard which has been caused by the ignorance of a few maintenance providers.

At Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS), reports of inappropriate fork arm repairs have left many, including Technical Manager Chas Day, alarmed.

"Rather than replacing worn fork arms, some reckless companies are placing loads – and more importantly – lives at risk by simply patching up damage," he explains.

CFTS points out that fork arms are a critical component of a fork lift truck. They are designed, manufactured and rigorously tested to ensure that they can handle the dynamic, bending and torsional stresses a fork lift truck faces in day-to-day operation.

Abuse and incorrect use can leave forks worn. As the fork's heel erodes, the truck's carrying capacity is dramatically reduced.

"Once a fork arm is badly damaged, it is impossible to restore it to its original strength. But that doesn't seem to stop some companies from performing a 'patch job'," says Chas Day.

"Although there's a wide range of legislation and guidance relating to their repair, it's highly unlikely that anyone offering to repair your fork arms will be aware it exists – let alone know about the specific testing that is required if a repair is attempted.

"One of the key reasons for the Thorough Examination of fork lift trucks is to ensure, on a periodic basis, that maintenance is being carried out correctly. A proper Thorough Examination will pick up inadequate repairs to forks and other key components."

CFTS reminds truck users that certainty in complying fully with the law can be assured by obtaining Thorough Examinations through companies accredited to the CFTS Thorough Examination scheme.

CFTS was founded as a collaboration between the materials handling world's two major industry trade associations – the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) and the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) – to develop and administer the industry's national accreditation scheme for Thorough Examination.

For companies not familiar with Thorough Examination – which is a legal requirement for all trucks aged 12 months or above – there is a short explanatory video available for immediate viewing on the CFTS website at www.thoroughexamination.org.

To check if the company that carries out your Thorough Examinations is accredited to CFTS, or to learn more about the CFTS Thorough Examination scheme, please contact: CFTS Ltd, 5-7 High Street, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 9NQ. Tel: 01344 623800. Fax: 01344 291197. Email mail@thoroughexamination.org. Or visit the CFTS website www.thoroughexamination.org.