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Pre-use checks – 3 key things your operators must know

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Whatever you call them on your site – daily, pre-use or pre-shift checks – they form an important part of most companies’ Safe Systems of Work. But, in reality, are they being carried out as often as they should? And if they aren’t, why not?

There’s no definitive term for these regular forklift inspections which some may misinterpret to mean that they can be carried out as infrequently as they like. But it’s vital that any debate over when these checks should take place does not detract from their importance or, indeed, their requirement to be carried out under Approved Code of Practice L117.

Pre-use checks are crucial to ensuring your trucks are in safe working order, providing a regular opportunity to identify any issues before they lead to more serious and costly problems.

The responsibility for carrying these out falls to your operators but, do they really carry them out every time? They need to understand the importance and practicalities of completing these checks regularly and correctly.

Pre-use checks should be explained to your operators as part of their basic training. As part of our forklift operator training courses, we answer the following key questions regards pre-use checks:

1.Why is it important that you carry out these checks?
2.How do you carry out and record them?
3.What should you do if you identify a defect?

Let’s take a look at these in more detail:

1. Why is it important that operators carry out these checks?

This comes down to safety, compliance and cost. Most importantly for your operators, early detection of a fault could avoid an accident and potential injuries to them or those around them.

For you, even if no one is hurt, the damage, repairs and disruption can be very costly to your business. Common faults that can cause serious issues if left unchecked are to hydraulics, resulting in a potential oil burst and mass clean-up operation, and to wheels/tyres, where debris caught around bearings causes them to heat up and fail. Each could cost as much as a four-figure sum to fix once you take damage, repairs and delays into account.

And aside from these justifications, you have to ensure your forklift trucks are properly maintained and inspected at suitable intervals by law, to make sure they remain in safe condition. So it’s vital that these checks are carried out as per your company policy, from a compliance perspective.

2. How do you carry out and record them?

It’s recommended that pre-use checks should be carried out by an operator when they take control of a forklift truck. By encouraging them to carry out the checks themselves before use, you will not only allow them to be sure the truck is up to the tasks they expect of it but it will also encourage them to take responsibility for their own safety (and that of those around them).

Typically, your forklift inspection should include the following areas:

  • Tyres and wheels
  • Brakes, steering and lifting systems
  • Fluid levels
  • Battery and charger
  • Hydraulics
  • Overhead guard
  • Forks
  • Accessories and aids
  • Chains

For an example of a full inspection slip from our pre-use inspection system, click here. Simple systems like these help ensure checks are recorded fully, frequently and consistently, regardless of who needs to complete them.

A good system will not only allow the operator to record their findings, it will also display to others whether the truck was found safe/unsafe to use at its last inspection.

Once the checks have been completed they need to be securely stored as, in the event of a truck failure or safety audit, they may need to be referenced. Systems like ours stay with the truck at all times, meaning that a detailed inspection history is always available when required.

3. What should you do if you identify a defect?
As per the guidance provided in L117, operators must report to a supervisor any defects which might affect the safe operation of the truck, to ensure they are put right. Until they are rectified, the truck should not be used.

Give operators the relevant skills and knowledge
Ensure your operators receive training on how and why they need to carry out their pre-use checks. If they don’t understand, its more likely they won’t feel the need to complete them, and it’s in everyone’s benefit for them to do so. Make your workplace safer, compliant and more profitable by ensuring pre-use checks are made regularly and reliably.

Looking for a forklift truck inspection system?
Find out more about our pre-use inspection system here, and if you’d like any further information, just get in touch – we’ll be happy to help.

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