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The Association of Industrial Truck Trainers has emphasised the important role of pre-use checks when operating workplace transport, as part of an ongoing endeavour to improve safety standards throughout the materials handling industry.

Despite checks being a mandatory part of testing standards for some workplace transport, such as rider and pedestrian operated lift trucks, AITT believes not enough operators continue to do them once they are qualified.

“Pre-use checks, or pre-shift checks as they might be known, are vital to do before operating any kind of lift truck,” said Adam Smith, Managing Director of AITT. “The concern is that even though operators are taught about the recommended safety-critical checks during training, they are not including these in daily routines and site duties.

“Carried out correctly, pre-use checks can play a really significant role in reducing accidents because the operator will be able to identify safety issues that need to be rectified before they use the truck.”

Testing standards from the Accredited Bodies Association (ABA) outline 23 steps to take before operating a vehicle, including assessing the tyres, brakes, steering, battery, hydraulics, forks and chains. Examining a truck regularly is also a good way to ensure that it receives ongoing maintenance.

“Checking a truck thoroughly in accordance with recommended guidance gives operators the opportunity to find any equipment faults,” said Adam. “It’s better to locate a problem when it’s small and easier to fix, than to let it go unnoticed, as it may become an even bigger issue that could be expensive to repair. So not only will you save money, you’ll be able to ensure a longer lifespan of the truck.”

With efficiency being a focus of many businesses, pre-use checks may sometimes be ignored an in effort to save time. “The key thing to remember is that pre-use checks only take a few minutes, and they have the potential to save lives,” explained Adam.

“AITT has a safety-driven ethos and we aim to improve standards for the benefit of the whole industry. We work closely with manufacturers of forklifts and workplace transport, as well as the many companies who own and operate the equipment, and we believe that operators must be encouraged to get into the habit of inspecting their truck. It will help them take responsibility for their equipment and their safety, as well as that of their colleagues.”