Refresher training is a vital part of ensuring site safety but so many companies approach us unsure of how often it should be carried out. Stuart Taylor of Mentor Training explains what you need to know to comply with the law and shows how investing in refresher training can actually save you money, as well as keeping your staff safe in the long term.
Regular training helps to keep drivers at their best. That’s a fact. Indeed, study after study shows that regularly trained operators are more productive (and profitable) than untrained colleagues. What’s more, refresher training helps prevent complacency from creeping in and bad habits from taking hold throughout the workforce. With companies running tighter margins and drivers under pressure from time constraints, targets, and pick-rate bonuses, it’s no surprise that standards can often fall to the wayside.
But stopping unsafe practice from becoming ingrained in a driver is one of the best things you can do for them, as bad practice and cutting corners can lead to accidents, and with them costly damage and disruption, and the risk of heavy fines, prosecution and serious injury, or worse.
Complying with the law
Under the law, specifically PUWER 98, ensuring that your operators are fully trained is your responsibility as an employer. While forklift refresher training itself isn’t technically a legal requirement, under L117 (Approved Code of Practice for Rider-Operator Lift Trucks), it’s recommended that operators receive refresher training every 3 to 5 years.
Though the recommended timescale for refresher training is not a regulation in itself, be aware that L117, as with any Approved Code of Practice, has special legal status. L117 provides guidance which, if followed, will ensure that you comply with the law. If you are prosecuted for a Health & Safety breach and it’s proven that you didn’t follow the relevant provisions as specified in L117 (or demonstrate that you complied with the law in another way), you will be found at fault by the court and at risk of potential prosecution, fines or both. A simple risk assessment for your operation should highlight any factors that may affect the frequency of refresher training.
It’s not one-size-fits-all
But, before you implement a rolling, regular schedule for lift truck refresher training and let this take care of itself, keep in mind that training must always be approached on a case-by-case basis. Even with a regular schedule set up, some workers may need their skills refreshing earlier than others if they have changed their working practices or environment, or if they’re only an occasional user. Similarly, a refresher may be brought forward if it’s noticed that they have developed some potentially unsafe working behaviours, or recently had an accident or near miss.
For the safety of the workforce and the good of your business, ensure you monitor skill levels and provide training when it’s required, not just when it’s due. And by doing so, you’ll stay safe, legal and profitable for the long term.