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Disclaimer

The legislative information contained on this web site is my interpretation of the law based on many years in the health and safety business. A definitive interpretation can only be given by the courts. I will therefore not be held responsible for any accident/incident/prosecution arising as a consequence of anyone using any information obtained from this web site.

Forklift operator medicals. The requirements

forklift operator medicalsForklift operator medicals. The following is a quote from the Approved Code Of Practice applying to forklift truck operator training, (April 2013).

"The Drivers’ Medical Unit at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) publishes 'At a glance: Guide to the current medical standards of fitness to drive'. This is aimed at health professionals and applies to lift trucks on the road, but can be applied to all work with lift trucks. For most work with lift trucks, a standard of fitness equivalent to that for the Group 1 entitlement (ordinary driving licence holders) would be appropriate. Activities such as working in a particularly demanding environment, working at night or moving highly toxic or explosive materials would probably be more appropriate to the Group 2 entitlement (heavy goods vehicle licence holders).

HSE is not prescriptive about the need for medical assessment for fitness to drive lift trucks and there is no legislation relating directly to this topic. However, you may choose to screen potential operators before placement and then follow the guidelines for Group 2 licences in 'At a glance' which require medical examination every five years from age 45, and every year from age 65 (in line with licence renewal periods). Always seek medical advice where there is any doubt about a person’s fitness to operate a lift truck".

You can download a copy of this DVLA document and the amendments to it but please note that these should be interpreted by a medical practitioner. The following is an interpretation of "At a glance"

Disability

Individuals should be assessed in relation to their ability to drive forklift trucks. 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.

Medication

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.

Alcohol and illicit drugs

Lift truck operation should not be carried out in circumstances when either alcohol or drugs have been taken. Advice for employers on alcohol and drugs is provided in "Don't mix it: A guide for employers on alcohol at work".

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.

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.

 

Medical standards

Standards required for a particular work situation should be set, taking into account assessment of both health and safety implications and the physical and mental demands of the job. It may be necessary to obtain specific advice on standards from a suitably competent occupational physician who is familiar with the work environment in question. The Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) located at HSE offices may be able to assist in locating such doctors.

The following is a summary of standards applicable to Group 1 drivers published by DVLA Standards may change and reference to At a glance is recommended.

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. Continuing fitness will need to be kept under review.

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. 

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