Forklifts, access platforms and container handlers

What is a thorough examination?

A Thorough Examination is a statutory requirement for lifting equipment under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER 98), Regulation 9. It has the same purpose as an MOT inspection by providing a report which identifies whether or not the lifting equipment is safe to use, and/or advice that needs to be followed to avoid risks in use. It is just as important as an MOT – probably more so! There is a legal requirement for a Thorough Examination to be carried out on fork lift trucks at least once a year, and often more frequently depending on conditions of use. There are legal requirements under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98), Regulation 6. They require all safety aspects of the truck to be inspected, and actions specified to remedy any defects found before they can create risks in use. To avoid duplication of effort the inspection of these other items would normally be carried out within the Thorough Examination.

What is a LOLER inspection?

This is the name often used for inspections under old legislation. As a term it is out of date. A Thorough Examination includes the inspection of chains and forks, but much more besides. and an equally short test answer

What is a chain and forks inspection?

The term LOLER Inspection is sometimes used, incorrectly, to describe a Thorough Examination. It is used because LOLER is the shortened version of “Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998”. These regulations, and the associated Approved Code of Practice, prescribe the format to be used for the Report of a Thorough Examination. It is safest to stick to the term Thorough Examination.

What does a thorough examination involve? What is examined?

A Thorough Examination is the inspection of lifting equipment, as required by LOLER 98, and other safety related components or equipment, as required by PUWER 98. A Competent Person is required to examine these items, check them for serviceability and report accordingly. It is not a full maintenance inspection of the truck. A Thorough Examination is substantially different from a maintenance inspection and the Competent Person has different duties to fulfil under the law.

  • LOLER 1998
  • Mast
  • Chains
  • Forks
  • Carriage
  • Tilt Mechanism
  • PUWER 1998
  • Overhead Guard
  • Steering
  • Carriage
  • Seat Restraints
  • Tyres
  • Brakes

Is a thorough examination a legal requirement?

Yes. Please refer to the HSE Publications

Who is responsible for making sure that a fork lift truck has a current report of thorough examination?

In simple terms it is the employer of the operator who has this responsibility. Under Health and Safety legislation the employer has a duty of care – “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as is reasonably practical, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”. The employer must ensure that the fork lift trucks that his/her operators use are safe. This is achieved through the implementation of a programme of Thorough Examinations. (It should be remembered that Thorough Examinations run alongside necessary maintenance procedures and checks, not in place of them.)
Where the employer is the owner of the fork lift truck this duty is clear. The employer must make arrangements for every fork lift truck to be Thoroughly Examined on a regular basis, at least once per year. (The actual frequency will be determined by the Competent Person.)

If the employer is not the owner of the truck but leases the truck, or rents it on a long term basis, usually 12 months or more, the responsibility is the same as though the trucks were owned by the employer.

If a fork lift truck is provided on a short term contract, a contract of less than 12 months, then the owner of the truck, the rental company, is responsible for arranging the Thorough Examination. However, the employer must still satisfy himself that such an examination has been conducted at an appropriate time. This can be achieved by insisting that a copy of the current Report of Thorough Examination is provided with other rental documentation.

How do I know that a hired forklift truck has a current Report of Thorough Examination?

Ask to see a copy of the report.

Who can carry out a Thorough Examination?

The legislation refers to a Competent Person. For the purpose of Thorough Examination a Competent Person is an experienced service engineer or examiner who meets the general criteria explained in LOLER 1998.
For all practical purposes there are 3 types of person who may carry out a Thorough Examination. (Their titles may vary.)

  • An authorised fork lift truck service engineer.
  • An insurance company lifting equipment examiner.
  • An examiner from a specialist inspection company.

The FLTA firmly believes that an experienced fork lift truck service engineer is best placed to conduct Thorough Examinations provided his/her company has a management system that ensures adequate training, instruction, supervision, quality control, independence, impartiality and integrity.

Can my own engineer carry out a thorough examination?

(This is a question asked by a variety of companies that own their own fork lift trucks and use their own engineers to service them, along with other plant, lorries, vans etc. The answer below is not directed at fork lift truck companies.)The safest answer is probably not, in the same way that you probably cannot carry out your own MOT inspections.

There are a number of important issues here:-

  • Someone, who is competent to do so, must authorise the engineer as a Competent Person for the purpose of conducting Thorough Examinations.
  • The engineer must have an appropriate level of experience and training. In the FLTA we recommend a minimum of 5 years’ experience as a fork lift truck service engineer and successful completion of a Thorough Examination course. Further, we recommend revalidation every 5 years.
  • The Competent Person needs to be independent from the routine maintenance of the fork lift truck. This means that there needs to be a number of suitably qualified engineers, and a management system to properly control them.

If the fork lift truck does not have a seat belt will it fail the thorough examination?

Not necessarily. For example reach trucks and trucks with stand-on operators do not need to have a seat belt fitted, so it does not apply. In certain circumstances older counterbalance trucks may still be used without a seat belt, but such use should be backed up with a written risk assessment. For further information read the HSE Information Sheet MISC 241

How often is a thorough examination required?

The regulations require routine Thorough Examination on a periodic basis. The FLTA agrees with the BITA GN28 recommendations on intervals for periodic Thorough Examination which are shown in detail in Table 1 on the following page. These guidelines have been issued to HSE Inspectors.


Thorough Examination:

When a fork lift truck is owned outright, responsibility for its Thorough Examination is straightforward. But what about when it’s on hire or lease?

Under Health and Safety legislation, the employer of the fork lift truck operator has a duty of care to ensure the equipment is safe:
Forklift hire Thorough Examination
“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as is reasonably practical, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974

Where the employer is also the outright owner of the truck, the implication of this duty (in the light of LOLER 98 and PUWER 98) is clear: the employer must arrange a regular  Thorough Examination schedule appropriate to the truck and its use.

If the truck is leased, or rented on a long-term basis (12 months or more), the responsibilities are the same as if it was owned outright, and the duty remains with the employer of the truck operator.

However, if the truck is provided on a short term basis (one day to one year) the rental company has responsibility for arranging Thorough Examination as its owner…

Checking truck forks…BUT the employer of the truck’s operator must still satisfy themselves that the truck carries a valid Thorough Examination – usually by insisting on having a copy of the Report of Thorough Examination included with the rental documentation.

In addition, the truck must have a valid Report of Thorough Examination whenever it leaves an owner’s undertaking – in effect, when it changes hands, or is transferred between companies, whether on a temporary or permanent basis.