Your legal requirements for MHE training during the outbreak

8th June 2020

There will be few employers who have found the last few months to be ‘business as usual’. Whether fluctuations in demand have seen businesses urgently take on new recruits or furlough and return existing employees, many have had to adapt in one way or another.

But in a rapidly changing world, some things remain a priority, including safety and compliance. After all, the consequences of unsafe MHE use remain just as serious as ever - hence the HSE making clear their stance on the continued need for basic operator training during this time.

To make sure you’re meeting your legal requirements for MHE training during the outbreak, here’s a breakdown of the latest guidance:

Operators new to equipment type

Whether requiring a novice or conversion course, anyone who is required to operate an equipment type which is new to them must continue to receive basic MHE operator training before being authorised to use the equipment.

The HSE have made no exceptions or exemptions for novice or conversion training during the outbreak, due to the risks posed by MHE if operated incorrectly, so Approved Code of Practice (L117) continues to be the best reference point for training operators new to the equipment.

What has changed, however, is the way that this (and any MHE training during the outbreak, for that matter) should be delivered. To reduce the risk of infection, the AITT, in consultation with the HSE, have produced a method statement for safe MHE training during the COVID-19 outbreak, including distancing and hygiene measures to protect all parties involved.

Ensure your operators receive the proper training, delivered safely, to keep your operations safe and compliant.

Refresher training

For existing MHE operators, an extension to their usual refresher period can be granted, should the COVID-19 outbreak prevent safe access to requalification training. In these cases, the HSE has advised that employers may extend an operator's refresher period by 3 months.

But employers making use of this extension period must be able to justify doing so: “Any employer or duty holder needing to utilise this extension period should be able to state clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training and demonstrate steps they have taken to undertake the training, if required.”  

Under current guidance, extensions can be applied to refreshers due on or after 16th March 2020, so don’t forget, operators’ additional 3-month periods will begin to expire from mid-June onwards.

Managers and supervisors

Good supervision is key to ensuring safe working techniques and best practice taught during operator training is followed day-to-day. In their recent guidance, the HSE specifically state: “[Employers or duty holders] should also be able to demonstrate that they are meeting their legal duty to monitor and supervise lift truck drivers to ensure that they continue to operate safely.”

To ensure those overseeing your operations can effectively monitor, identify and correct any bad practice, specialist training courses for managers and supervisors are available. Our ‘Managing Forklift Operations’ e-learning option even allows training to be carried out online to remove the need to organise and attend face-to-face training, and helps delegates fit learning around their working patterns and responsibilities.

Don’t forget your pallet trucks

It’s worth noting that the guidance referenced above refers to operators of all MHE equipment, not just larger, rider operated forklift trucks.

There’s a long-standing misconception that those operating pedestrian trucks don’t require the same sort of formal training as those using counterbalance or reach trucks (more on this here). But it is a legal requirement for employers to provide training on all types of pallet trucks, from simple manual pump trucks through to the more complex stackers, and the requirements for providing novice, conversion and refresher courses are the same during the outbreak as for all other MHE equipment.

Ultimately, your business can only operate as safely and efficiently as your team does. By following the latest guidance and keeping on top of their training needs, you can help keep your people safe, your business compliant and your operations as productive as possible, during these extraordinary times.

For further information on the latest guidelines, training during the outbreak or course availability in your area, please contact us here or on 01246 555222.


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