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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.

correct training for pallet truck operators

forklift type definition

Here is another useful article by Laura Nelson, managing director of RTITB, the UK's preferred workplace transport training accrediting body in which she clears up the confusion on the legal requirements when it comes to pallet and stacker truck training.

"It's not that difficult to use — it's pretty low risk". "lt's not like a ‘proper truck". “Training is not really necessary for this ~ it'd just be a waste of time and money". "Operators don't need training for every type of pallet truck — they're all basically the same".

These are some of the inaccurate statements that you might hear when asking warehouse and operations managers about training for pedestrian and rider operated pallet and stacker trucks . Training requirements for pedestrian and rider-operated pallet/stacker trucks often cause confusion, meaning that training isn’t delivered adequately or, sometimes at all. Furthermore, operators trained to use a ride-on truck don't always receive additional training when they start using a pedestrian operated truck which has important differences and presents very different risks.

While those in the warehouse may consider these trucks a "low risk", in fact, many workplace injuries result from pallet and stacker trucks. Employers have a legal obligation to deliver suitable training in accordance with PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) and should consider following the guidance in the Approved Code of Practice L117.

Understanding ACOP 117

ACoP L117 is aimed at employers and those responsible for the safe operation of lift trucks, those in control of work sites, managers and supervisors and includes guidance on operator and supervisor training.

ACoP L117 applies to all Rider-operated lift trucks,including industrial counterbalanced trucks, industrial reach trucks, rough-terrain counterbalanced trucks, variable reach trucks (telehandlers), side-loading trucks, container-handling trucks, articulated trucks, pedestrian—operated trucks, (pallet stackers), order-picking trucks, very narrow aisle, (VNA), trucks and straddle trucks.

By failing to deliver adequate training on these "low risk" pedestrian operated pallet trucks, employers are likely to be compromising their legal compliance, as well as their duty of care to their team. A lack of training on safe use of pallet trucks and stackers can result in serious workplace incidents and injuries. For example, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reported an incident at a Wrexham firm in 2015,where a worker was killed when a machine weighing an estimated half a tonne fell on him.The worker was moving the machine on a pallet truck when it toppled over, causing fatal injuries. HSE's investigation found that the lifting operation had been unsafe and the worker had not been adequately trained in undertaking the lifting of non-standard loads.

So, what is the right process for achieving compliance and a high level of safety? Pallet truck and stacker training should be approached in the same manner as fork lift truck training, both in terms of the importance that is placed on it and allocating the appropriate time and resource. Training should be broken down into the following simple stages:

1. Basic Operator Training

Basic Training should equip the operator with the ability to identify, explain and operate the truck's components and controls. Operators also learn about operating challenges and important techniques for minimising risk for the different types of stacker and pallet trucks.

2. Specific Job Training

Takes basic knowledge and tailors this to cover the specific equipment used in the workplace and reflects the workplace environment.

3. Familiarisation training

This training focuses on the particular tasks that the operator will be required to carry out, giving comprehensive understanding of how to operate safely in their own workplace.

4. Conversion training

Where an operator has been trained to use one type of equipment but then has a need to operate significantly different types of truck, Conversion training is necessary for both safety and compliance. Even if equipment is from the same ‘family’ of truck, there may be differences in capacity and the way they are operated. Conversion training ensures operators are familiar with the controls, characteristics and associated risks for each different type of stacker or pallet truck that they need to use.

With a combination of the right classroom-based and practical training, electric pallet and stacker truck training helps ensure a comprehensive understanding of the equipment, the associated risks and preventative measures. This improves safe and efficient operation while also maintaining compliance for employers. lt is also important for employers to understand that they are still bound under PUWER to ensure that operators for any type of equipment, even those not covered by ACoP L117, are properly trained. This includes training for ‘stand-on’ pallet trucks which do not lift materials for stacking, and pedestrian-operated trucks. To provide clear records of compliance in the event of an incident, employers should also keep evidence of training delivered in operators.

This article first appeared in SHD Logistics magazine.

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