What Do I Need to Operate Forklift Truck?
You don’t need to hold a UK driving licence to drive a forklift truck or undertake forklift training and there is no legal requirement, unless you wish to drive the forklift truck on the public highway. In this instance, you and the forklift vehicle would have to comply with the appropriate road traffic legislation.
Medical Fitness for Forklift Training
Forklift truck operators are responsible for some heavy loads and so it is important that operators have an appropriate level of medical fitness for the work they are expected to undertake. These medical considerations are detailed on pages 8 and 9 of booklet HSG6 provided by the Health and Safety Executive which states:
“It is good practice for all operators and potential operators to be screened for fitness before employment and again at regular intervals in middle age. Examination at age 40 and thereafter at five-yearly intervals up to age 65 is recommended. Operators over 65 should be screened annually. Examination is also recommended in all cases after an accident or sickness absence of more than one month, or after a shorter period if it appears likely that the illness may affect fitness to operate.”
The standard of fitness required to operate a forklift truck is generally the same as that required for a Group 1 Driving licence (i.e. a full UK driving license). Applying the principle of individual assessment of fitness should ensure that people with disabilities are not disadvantaged.
Some people with disabilities will have developed compensatory skills. Reasonable adjustment to work equipment including forklift trucks, as can be required by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, may enable a disabled person to operate a forklift truck safely. Competence in an emergency must, however, always be considered.
Points to be considered concerning the normal level of fitness required are:
General – Lift truck operators should usually have full movement of the trunk, neck and limbs, and normal agility. However, a very experienced worker who loses a limb may be successfully re-employed after retraining. A stable disposition is required, but a history of previous mental illness should not necessarily preclude selection. An individual who is dependent on alcohol or non-prescribed drugs should not be employed as a lift truck operator.
Vision – Proper guidance of the lift truck and its load depends upon good judgement of space and distance and this generally requires the effective use of both eyes, although some people with monocular vision can undertake certain kinds of lift truck work satisfactorily. Distance vision should be of the same standard as for driving a car on public roads. If distance vision is corrected by glasses or contact lenses these should always be worn while operating a lift truck.
Hearing – The ability to hear instructions and warning signals is important, but if a risk assessment specific to the job and the individual indicates that deafness does not constitute a hazard then it should not disqualify someone from operating a lift truck.
Epilepsy – This should not debar a worker from operating a lift truck if he/she is eligible for an ordinary driving licence (ie has been free from epileptic attack for one year) but any recurrence of seizures must always be reassessed medically. Flashing beacons on a forklift truck may trigger epileptic fits.