The Health and Safety at Work act 1974 states that companies must adequately train their employees. 

The Accrediting Bodies, (AITT, RTITB, ITSSAR and NPORS) underneath the umbrella organisation (ABA) set and regulate training and testing standards as described in the HSE Acop L117. This Acop describes what “adequate” looks like. Companies are not obliged to adopt accredited training but they have to demonstrate (via risk assessments) that the training they put in place is adequate as described in L117.


This is for operators with no existing rider operated lift truck qualifications or experience. It covers all the basic knowledge and skills to operate the type of forklift truck which is used for the purposes of the training. There will also be an assessment. On successful completion a certificate of basic training will be issued.

This is for existing truck operators training on a truck type which is different from the truck they originally trained on. (eg counterbalance operators training to use a reach truck). This covers the knowledge and skills specific to the type of truck and following an assessment a certificate of conversion training will be issued.

The regulatory framework says that refresher training must be done but it also says that the company should take into account the type of operation they are running and offer as typical advice a refresher period is between three and five years.

L117 states that the ideal number of operators to train at any one time is two, but 3 is the maximum.

In certain circumstances practical experience can be taken into account to shorten the training period basic training.

Lift truck operators should be over the minimum school leaving age (MSLA), except in ports where they must be at least 18 years old.

There are particular definitions of people by age in health and safety law:

  • a young person is anyone under eighteen years of age;
  • a child is anyone who is not over compulsory school age (ie he or she has not yet reached the official age at which they may leave school). This is generally referred to as the minimum school leaving age.

The Management Regulations 1999 require you to assess the health and safety risks to all your employees and to identify what you need to do to comply with your legal duties to prevent or control those risks and ensure your employees' health and safety. Under the Regulations you have particular responsibilities towards young people:

  • to assess risks to all young people under 18 years of age, before they start work;
  • to ensure your risk assessment takes into account their psychological or physical immaturity, inexperience, and lack of awareness of existing or potential risks;
  • to introduce control measures to eliminate or minimise the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Yes, not least so that the employer complies with PUWER regulations (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) . Remember a laden powered pallet truck can often weigh more than double the weight of a car.  Crushing accidents involving legs, feet and ankles are, sadly, commonplace.

Some countries do issue licences to fork lift truck operators. It is quite common for an individual from one of these countries, who is seeking employment in UK as a fork lift truck operator, to offer this licence, with an authenticated translation, as proof of their ability to operate. Whilst there may be no reason to doubt the authenticity of such documentation it would be unwise for any potential employer to accept it at face value. At the very least the skills required to obtain that licence may not have been appropriate to either the kind of truck or the operating environment for which the individual is to be employed.

Under these circumstances it would be best to treat the foreign licence as though it were a training certificate from an unknown, unaccredited trainer – with caution. Arrange to have the potential employee formally assessed and then provide any additional training that may be required.

Remember, the employer is required to give written authority for any employee to actually operate the equipment. The employer alone will determine how long this authority remains valid and it is good practice to ensure that the performance of all operators is formally monitored on a regular basis.

Employees overseeing lifting operations do not necessarily need full operator training but they do need to be trained adequately under the regulation PUWER 1998. BDT offers this type of training.

Basic training must be carried out away from a working environment so a training centre is appropriate but it can be conducted in the workplace if it takes place apart from normal working operations. This is also the case for conversion training. Job specific training should be carried out “on the job”.

Although it is recognised that people tend to learn more effectively during daylight hours there is no requirement for this to happen. Training can take place at any time of day/night.