Voluntary accreditation schemes for lift-truck training
It is important that lift-truck operators are trained to the standards outlined in the L117 ACOP, whether using in-house trainers or external training providers. There are a number of organisations who provide accreditation for lift-truck training schemes. These voluntary schemes are intended to:
- help set and maintain professional training standards;
- help employers select training organisations or lift-truck suppliers who offer a good standard of training.
HSE no longer administers an accrediting bodies scheme, but if you decide to use one, the way a typical scheme is likely to operate is outlined below.
Although accreditation is voluntary, the use by an employer of an accredited training provider (ATP) provides some assurance that the training provided will be at least to the standard described in the ACOP and guidance. Each accrediting body will be able to provide details of appropriately qualified and experienced ATPs to enquirers who seek advice about lift-truck training, along with a description of their assessment criteria.
The Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA) can provide advice on workplace transport training.
Accredited training providers
Accrediting bodies accredit organisations or individuals as 'accredited training providers' who are deemed competent to provide (or, in the case of individuals, to be) the instructors who carry out the training.
An ATP may be an organisation, individual or an in-house training scheme. The main conditions of accreditation are that ATPs use qualified and experienced instructors only, that they follow course syllabuses approved by the accrediting body and that they be subjected to regular monitoring visits by the accrediting body. The training must also be carried out in suitable premises, which may be a dedicated training centre or an area set aside for the purpose at an employer's premises.
To become accredited, a training provider applies to one (or more) of the accrediting bodies. If the training is to be carried out at a training centre, the accrediting body will inspect that facility. If training is to be carried out at employers' premises, then the applicant is asked to demonstrate that they have all the necessary equipment and documentation, and to arrange to conduct a training course at which an assessor from the accrediting body would be present.
There are two levels of instructor associated with accrediting bodies: accredited and registered. Both are trained as instructors, and assessed as being competent, on a course approved for the purpose by an accrediting body.
An accredited instructor (AI) will additionally have been inspected by the accrediting body, be subject to regular monitoring and have to use a course syllabus approved by the accrediting body. AI registration is valid for 5 years, after which the instructor is reassessed and reaccredited.
A registered instructor (RI) is trained and tested to the same standard as an AI. Registration is for a 5 year period after which the instructor is reassessed and re-registered. However, an RI is not inspected, monitored or subject to control over their course syllabus by the accrediting body. This does not mean that the standard of training provided by an RI is necessarily lower, nor that they do not follow a syllabus produced by an accrediting body. However, being outside the accredited system, the training may not be as uniform as that provided by an AI, nor is it subject to the same control. Some in-house training schemes are provided by an RI, and the employer may not consider it necessary to apply for accreditation because they monitor their own standards.
Certificates of training
Certificates issued by an ATP (or AI/RI) will quote their accreditation number, the name of the accrediting body, and the name and registration number of the instructor who conducted the training. Certificates should always provide sufficient information to allow the training to be traced back to course content. If training has been limited (eg lifting to (say) 3 metres), then the certificate should identify this limitation to ensure operators only undertake work for which they have been trained. Note that there is no legal requirement for certificates, which are often confused with licences, but ATPs will always issue them and HSE encourages their use as a good way of demonstrating that training has been provided. There is no such thing as a lift-truck licence.
What should training include?
Operator training should always include three stages:
- Basic training: the basic skills and knowledge required to operate a lift truck safely and efficiently.
- Specific job training: knowledge and understanding of the operating principles and controls of the lift truck to be used and how it will be used in their workplace.
- Familiarisation training: applying what has been learnt, under normal working conditions, on the job.
Basic and specific job training, which can be combined, should take place off the job (ie away from production and other pressures). Familiarisation training needs to be done on the job, under close supervision. See the L117 ACOP for more detail on what each stage involves:
How long should a basic training course last?
It is difficult to specify how long a course should last as there are many issues which affect the rate of learning. Courses should be long enough to meet the requirements of Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 of the L117 ACOP (typically 3-5 days).
Operators with some experience of lift trucks or relevant experience of similar vehicles may need less extensive training than those with no experience, however, do not overestimate the value of such experience. An operator with basic training on one type of lift truck or handling attachment cannot safely operate others, on which they have not been trained, without additional conversion training.
The ratio of trainee: instructor: truck should enable the instructor to demonstrate each part of the practical training and enable the trainee to obtain adequate hands-on experience (for example a maximum of 3:1:1, except for theory sessions). There should be enough time for each trainee to have enough practical experience to become a safe operator and to do so under close supervision.
The instructor should continuously assess a trainee's progress to ensure they achieve the required standards throughout training. At the end of the training, the trainee should pass a test, or tests, to demonstrate that they have the necessary practical and theoretical knowledge and skills to operate lift trucks safely.
It is essential that newly trained operators are given specific job and familiarisation training as well as basic training. Once they have completed the three stages of training, you should give operators, including occasional users, the opportunity to put the skills and knowledge acquired during training into practice at the workplace to reinforce that training.
Monitoring and assessment
Lift-truck operators, even those who are trained and experienced, need to be routinely monitored in the workplace and, where necessary, retested or refresher trained to make sure they continue to operate lift trucks safely.
You can identify the need for further training using a formal monitoring and assessment process, carried out by a suitably competent person, such as an instructor. Formally timetable this assessment (for example a retest) to make sure it is done at reasonable intervals. Where an operator fails this assessment, arrange further training for them. You may find it useful to record these assessments in operators' personnel records.
Regular refresher training will ensure operators:
- maintain good driving habits;
- learn new skills where appropriate;
- reassess their abilities.
Refresher training or retesting might also be appropriate where operators:
- have not used trucks for some time;
- are occasional users;
- appear to have developed unsafe working practices;
- have had an accident or near miss;
- have changed their working practices or environment.
How often do I need to provide refresher training?
There is no specific time period after which you need to provide refresher training or formal assessment. However, you may decide that automatic refresher training or a retest after a set period (for example 3-5 years) is the best way to make sure employees remain competent. Where you adopt this approach, you will still need to monitor performance, in case operators need extra training before the set period ends.The length of a refresher training course will be set by assessment of the operators to identify shortcomings and any unsafe habits which need correction. It is not, therefore, possible to advise on the length of refresher training. However, it is unlikely that refresher courses of less than one day will be effective.
It is essential that supervisors have enough training and knowledge to recognise safe and unsafe practices. This does not mean they need full operator training, but they do need to understand the risks involved, and how to avoid or prevent them. Some organisations offer training courses for supervisors and managers of lift-truck operations.
Supervisors should be able to:
- carry out an effective observation and know what to look for;
- communicate effectively with operators and line managers;
- recognise unsafe practice and behaviour;
- maintain and promote health and safety standards.
Use of trucks by non-employees
Use of lift trucks by people other than employees is increasingly common. Typically this is done by visiting lorry drivers and service engineers. Employers and site controllers should cooperate to ensure that only adequately trained people operate lift trucks.