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Training during the pandemic: what the HSE guidance means for you

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The HSE recently issued a statement regarding the requirements for MHE training during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help businesses follow the guidance and keep their operations safe and compliant, we’ve created the following guide to applying these directions on your site. Our understanding is that the key messages of the HSE statement are as follows;

Refresher training

Where the COVID-19 pandemic prevents safe access to requalification training, you may extend an operator’s refresher period by three months. As it stands at the time of writing, this guidance applies to certificates expiring on or after 16th March 2020.

We strongly advise that companies do not impose blanket changes to their refresher policy durations, as these should only be done with sufficient justification (i.e. a new risk assessment demonstrating measures introduced to reduce the risk). Rather, we suggest that, in line with the guidance, they grant additional extensions to those due to receive refresher training during the pandemic, but unable to due to the circumstances.

Remember, employers needing to delay refreshers should be able to justify their reasons for doing so and demonstrate steps taken to undertake the training, if required.

Novice/Conversion training

MHE has the potential to be very dangerous if not operated by someone who has been trained to do so safely. To this end, the HSE have made clear that there can be no exceptions or exemptions for novice or conversion training. Put simply, if a business needs an employee to operate a lift truck, this person must be trained as per L117, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Theory session delivery

There had been questions raised as to whether classroom-based training was allowed under the latest Government guidance, but as the HSE statement clarifies, “any training providers who are working with Key Workers should adjust their activities to follow Public Health England advice regarding good hygiene practices and separation distances, and if relevant accommodate any site-specific rules to manage the risk of COVID-19 infection”.

In practical terms, this means that theory sessions can be delivered, providing they are carried out in an area that allows suitable segregation of the minimum advised distance between all delegates and the Instructor, and that everyone follows the latest guidance surrounding hygiene and self-isolation on the onset of any potential COVID-19 symptoms.


At a time when it’s definitely not ‘business as usual’, this will be especially important to ensure that safety standards continue to be met. The guidance makes specific reference to an employer’s legal duty to monitor and supervise lift truck drivers to ensure that they continue to operate safely.

If your business does require urgent training during this time, please contact us and we will help wherever we can, carrying out all courses in line with the latest Government, HSE and PHE guidance regards distancing and hygiene.

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