Hire trucks shouldn't be a higher risk

Thorough Examination confusion may jeopardise safety

As growing numbers of businesses turn to fork lift truck rentals to keep overheads low during the economic downturn, materials handling experts have warned that some companies' misunderstanding of Thorough Examination requirements for hire trucks is in danger of placing them in breach of the law.

At Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS), the body responsible for developing and administering the industry's national accreditation scheme for Thorough Examination, a steady stream of queries from confused fork lift truck users looking for guidance has left many, including CFTS Technical Manager Chas Day, concerned.

"Whether a fork lift truck is being hired for a day or a year, users and fleet owners should be fully aware of their responsibilities," explains Chas. "Knowing that any user is unclear about this subject indicates that they are being inappropriately advised, if at all.

"At present, all fork lift trucks require a Thorough Examination - at least once every 12 months - as specified in LOLER 98. Legislation currently dictates that Thorough Examination is a user responsibility. As such, it is up to the user of the equipment to ensure that a current and valid Thorough Examination Certificate is in place and available for inspection.

"Often, companies operating hire fleets are faced with difficult decisions about Thorough Examinations," comments Chas. "Issues, such as who will carry them out and when, can be compounded if both short term and long term hire equipment is used.

"Guidance on hire equipment is not easy to find in this complex legislation. That's why all companies accredited to the CFTS Thorough Examination Scheme have been given clear advice on maintaining the integrity of equipment while giving customers simple and straightforward advice - and peace of mind.

"This is especially important with short term hire equipment," adds Chas. "Fork lift trucks can be hired for as little as a day, or for a number of months. With hire periods and usage varying so greatly, this creates many difficulties for a fleet operator. Let me be clear. A fork lift truck that is provided on short term hire, that is, for a period of up to a maximum of 12 months, should be provided with a Report of Thorough Examination by the hiring company. It is good practice for a copy of the report to be part of the hire documentation.

"For longer periods of hire, the responsibility rests firmly with the user and not the hire company. This, of course, usually applies to fork lift trucks on contract hire and the user will choose who carries out the Thorough Examination."

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

For companies not familiar with Thorough Examination, there is a short explanatory video available for immediate viewing on the CFTS website at www.thoroughexamination.org.