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A company that describes itself as the UK’s largest supplier of fasteners, fixings and hardware products to the distributor and merchant trade has been fined £300,000 after an employee was struck by a forklift truck and permanently disabled.

Team leader Debra Thorpe required 13 operations on her leg after being hit by the vehicle at the Owlett-Jaton warehouse on the Stone Business Park in Opal Way, Stone, Staffordshire on 28 September 2016.

The court was told that Thorpe was returning on foot from the toilets on the warehouse’s ground floor to the mezzanine where she worked when the accident happened. She was airlifted to hospital where she spent four weeks recovering. She required a metal plate in her leg and skin grafts. She also received therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, Newcastle Under Lyme Magistrates’ Court was told.

An investigation by Stafford Borough Council found that the company had failed properly to assess the risks posed by forklift truck movements in areas where pedestrians were likely to be.

In September 2016, Hexstone – trading as Owlett-Jaton – admitted to failing to discharge its duty under s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, contrary to s 33 (1)(a), and contravening reg 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, contrary to s 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Christian Du Cann, defending the company, said that Hexstone had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had co-operated fully with the investigation. He told the court that following a 2005 inspection, the company had been "commended” for its safe system of work. Du Cann added: "There was a system but it was not rigorous enough.”

The supplier was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £7,424 in costs. The court was told that since the incident, the firm had painted dedicated walkways on the warehouse floor; installed a new crossing; introduced a "caution” tape barrier system; and reorganised the shelving to provide better visibility.

The court was told that Thorpe had remained on full pay since the accident and the company would be arranging a phased return to work for her.

District Judge McGarva said the supplier had not been cavalier in its approach and had since taken steps to remedy deficiencies uncovered by the council’s investigation.

"The measures required are recognised standards in the industry. They failed to put in place those recognised measures,” the district judge said.

Sep 1st , 2017

The Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA), which is formed by the four accrediting bodies; AITT, RTITB, ITSSAR and NPORS, have created a new testing standard, which must be fully implemented by 1st September 2017. Any tests held on or after this date that do not use the new format will be invalid.

The ABA have worked with a range of stakeholders, including training organisations, trade associations, insurers, unions, lift truck manufacturers and employers, to produce a test which more closely reflects the modern working environment and the needs of employers and the industry at large. The ABA Focus Group decided that candidates showing habitual safety related behaviour should be penalised; if they repeatedly committed the SAME safety related fault then they should not pass the practical test element and further training should be provided. This is the first time the test has been updated since 2000.

Key changes

Pre-Use Inspection: 13 of the 22 elements described in the pre-use inspection test have been deemed safety critical. The test candidate must carry out a full and correct check of these items, failure to do so will result in an automatic referral in this element of the test.

Theory Test: In the bank of multiple choice questions there are five mandatory questions. These must appear in every question paper. If a candidate gets any of the mandatory questions incorrect then the overall result of the association knowledge examination will be a referral (regardless of the overall score).

Practical Skills Test: Candidates will be disqualified from the practical skills test if they incur more than three 5-point penalties in any one penalty criteria.

14 out of the 37 criteria now carry a 5-point penalty in the practical skills (listed above). This means the number of 5-point penalties has risen from the original 10 criteria to 14.

Referrals (Practical & Theory Tests): A referral does not mean that a delegate has failed either the theory or practical elements of the course but means they will have to re-take that element of the course and may be given one additional attempt on the day of testing (time permitting), prior to re-training.

March 6th 2018



The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness. The organisation acts in the public interest to reduce work-related death and serious injury across Great Britain's workplaces.

“Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use, Approved Code of Practice and guidance” (known throughout the industry simply as “L117”) is the HSE’s primary guidance publication on the safe operation of fork lift trucks and was revised in 2013.

Who it’s for

L117 is aimed at employers and those responsible for the safe operation of lift trucks, as well as those in control of worksites, the self-employed, managers and supervisors. Others involved with lift trucks, such as trade union health and safety representatives and lift-truck trainers, may also find it useful, but it is not intended to replace formal training.


L117 includes the following:

an outline of the main legal requirements relating to lift trucks

the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) text and associated guidance on operator training for stacking rider-operated lift trucks. This will help employers meet their legal obligations to make sure all operators receive adequate training

information on features of lift trucks that you need to consider

guidance on the safe use of lift trucks and how to protect pedestrians

guidance on the maintenance and Thorough Examination of lift trucks.

Not just FLTs

It is important to note that, although the ACOP text relates to stacking rider-operated lift trucks, as an employer your duty under PUWER 98 is to ensure that operators of all types of lift truck are properly trained:

“Operators of types of truck not covered by the ACOP (Approved Code of Practice) text, for example pedestrian-operated trucks, ‘stand-on’ pallet trucks that do not lift materials for stacking, and straddle carriers, will also need training. The advice given in the ACOP text and the guidance on training can be used as an indication of the standard of training to provide for all types of lift truck.”

The crucial point is that employers must meet their legal obligations and ensure that all operators receive adequate training, regardless of the vehicle.

The new document incorporates most of the information which was contained in Safety in working with fork lift trucks (HSG6) and fully replaces it.

It’s the law

The reason why L117 is such an important document is because it’s designed to ensure that you fulfil your obligations, as required by the law.

All the guidance and advice contained within it relates to the seven main pieces of UK legislation that govern the safe use of fork lift trucks in this country.

These seven legal statutes are:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act)

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM)

L117 goes far beyond simple risk assessments and basic training, stating the regulations, then what they mean in practice, on all manner of issues. For example:

legal responsibilities of companies, managers and employees

choosing and maintaining equipment

Thorough Examination

workplace layout

fumes, fuels and battery acid

dealing with agency workers

...and many other subjects besides.

In every case, as an employer, you need to be able to show that you know the law and are complying with it.

Revised in 2013, L117 now includes four key considerations for those responsible for ensuring safe FLT operations, each of which are outlined below.

Refresher training

Once an employee is trained, how long is that training valid? Contrary to popular belief, there is actually no legal requirement for fork lift truck operators to receive refresher training at specific intervals.

Even the best fork lift operators can, if left unchecked, become complacent with safety measures or develop bad habits over time.

Reassessment allows employers the opportunity to identify and address such lapses before they lead to potentially serious accidents. The new guidelines recommend automatic refresher training or a retest after a set period of time, e.g. three to five years, as the best way to ensure employees remain competent.

When set refresher training is adopted, managers and supervisors must still monitor performance in case operators need extra training before the end of the set period.

In addition to this, formal re-assessment is likely to be needed where truck 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 equipment or environment.

The ‘Example of employer’s training record’ within the L117 appendices has been amended to include details of refresher training.

Supervisor training

The importance of supervisor training is covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act. However, it is now considered so important that L117 now mentions it too. Unlike some other guidelines, this is not a recommendation – it’s a solid requirement:

The HSW Act requires you to provide adequate supervision. 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.

Daily or Pre-shift checks

While this isn’t strictly a new addition to the L117, its importance warrants inclusion here.

The revised guidelines state that, at the beginning of each shift, operators should check their lift truck in accordance with the vehicle handbook, and document the findings. Any defects identified which could affect the safe operation of the vehicle must be reported to a supervisor to ensure they are fixed.

Medical considerations

Disabilities (mental or physical) do not automatically disqualify an individual from being a fork truck operator. Fitness for such work should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis through risk assessment and medical advice.

The latest L117 guidelines suggest that the DVLA’s publication, At a glance: Guide to the current medical studies of fitness to drive, can be applied to all fork lift trucks – not just those operating on public roads.

This document can be downloaded for free here.

Guidelines recommend that operators possess a standard of fitness equivalent to that required of an ordinary driving licence.

However, for more technical work, such as demanding environments, night driving or moving hazardous materials, it is suggested that lift truck drivers possess a level of fitness equivalent to that of a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) licence holder.

While the HSE does not demand medical assessments to determine fitness to operate a fork lift, the new guidelines suggest that managers may wish to screen potential operators before placement. From there, employers could administer medical examinations according to the DVLA’s HGV licence requirements – every five years for operators over the age of 45, and every year for those over the age of 65.

As ever, medical advice should always be sought if there is any doubt as to a person’s physical or mental fitness to safely operate equipment.


Put simply, L117 is the key document for anyone responsible for managing materials handling operations. It is available to download for free here.

FLTA Safe User Group

It is always useful to have someone to talk to if you're unsure how best practice applies in your individual situation, and to be updated about any changes to the regulations and what they mean in practice – especially if you're running a busy warehouse.

So to help, the FLTA designed its Safe User Group: an information service and straight-talking telephone helpline that keeps managers safe, up-to-date and on the right side of the law.

Safe User Group membership will provide you with a comprehensive range of easy-to-follow safety resources including Fact Sheets, Technical Bulletins, regular updates on legislative changes that affect FLT operations, a health and safety newsletter, access to specially discounted publications, and an independent FLT telephone helpline.

Cox Training and Consultancy

 Caversham, Reading, Berks, RG4 5JN

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