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Getting forklift refresher training right for your operation

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With no specified forklift refresher period set out by law, choosing the right interval for you requires a sound understanding of your operational risks and how they influence your training schedules.

Even well-trained and experienced lift truck operators need routine monitoring, and, where necessary, retesting or refresher training to combat complacency and make sure they continue to operate their lift trucks safely.

What the definitive guide says:

To find out more, we’ll need to refer to L117, the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice and ‘definitive guide’ to forklift operator training and safe use. It states:

“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 your 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.”

As this is guidance and not law, some misinterpret refresher training (intentionally or unintentionally) as unnecessary. But, it absolutely is and neglecting this fact could come at a heavy cost to your operation’s safety, compliance and productivity.

The importance of forklift refresher training

Regular refresher training nips bad habits (and the costly accidents that follow) in the bud and ensures operators:

  • Maintain good driving habits
  • Learn new skills where appropriate
  • Reassess their abilities


However, it’s not sufficient to simply implement a regular training interval and assume that this will cover all eventualities. There are instances where refresher training or retesting might be required sooner, if operators:

  • Have not used forklift trucks for some time
  • Are occasional users
  • Appear to have developed unsafe working practices
  • Have had an accident, or a near miss
  • Have a change to their working practices or environment


Determining your risk

To be truly effective, your refresher training policy should be based on a detailed assessment of your specific operation – including your processes and equipment, how and where it’s used, by whom and the associated risks.

If you need any guidance on determining your training requirements, L117 is always a good place to start, or you can contact us for advice – we’ll be happy to talk it through.

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