Common defects and legislation for Fork-Lift Trucks and Order Pickers

There are 4 main pieces of legislation which need to be complied with when operating fork-lift trucks, these are:

  1. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  2. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  3. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  4. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998

Fork-lift trucks and order pickers are involved in about 25% of workplace transport accidents. To comply with the required legislation and prevent the vast majority of accidents the user / owner needs to establish a set structure of daily user checks, inspections, planned maintenance and thorough examinations.

Remember that these accidents cause deaths and injuries which destroy lives and businesses.

5 most common defects associated with Fork-Lift Trucks and Order Pickers

  1. Elongation of lifting chains – Extensive experience within Thurra has shown that the chains on fork-lift trucks and order pickers can endure years of safe lifting if the primary lifting components are maintained and thoroughly examined at set intervals. Once chains start to stretch, they start to lose some of their strength characteristics causing them to fail catastrophically. If supporting a load, the resultant failure could result in serious injury or even death to the operator or personnel in the vicinity. Thurra experienced engineers assess the condition of the lifting chains at every examination, taking measurements which are used to determine if they are fit for continued use.
  2. Excessive wear of the fork heel – By their very nature and the environment that fork-lift trucks and order pickers work in, forks tend to wear at the heel. This is generally caused by the abrasive action of the forks rubbing on the ground. As metal is removed due to such action, the strength capability of the forks is reduced. Excessive wear means that the fork-lift trucks and order pickers are operating beyond their design capability and in such cases could put in danger the lives and equipment in the vicinity. As part of the thorough examination, the condition of the forks are assessed and any areas that need attention are brought to the notice of the owner / user in sufficient time to prevent an accident and operational down time.
  3. Lifting chain anchorage points seized / damaged – The lifting chains anchorage points are generally positioned on fork-lift trucks and order pickers out of sight and are generally not included in any daily user checks. Failure of these anchorage points would result in the load being moved becoming unsupported and thereby causing the potential for a major accident. As part of our thorough examination, we check the structural integrity of the anchorage points and if required notify the owner / user of any remedial actions required.
  4. Poorly functioning brakes – The condition of the brakes is of paramount importance. Fork-lift trucks are often used on loading ramps and on dock levellers, when loading and unloading lorries. In these situations, poorly functioning brakes could result in the fork-lift truck driver losing control of the vehicle, especially on an incline or loss of control when coming to a precise stop. In such cases there is a significant risk to life for the fork-lift operator and people in the vicinity. As well as significant damage to equipment. The condition of both the hand brake and foot brake are assessed by Thurra’s engineers at every examination. Any resultant areas that require remedial action are brought to the attention of the user / operator.
  5. Over loaded fork(s) – Every fork-lift truck and order picker are supplied with a load chart which identifies the capacity of the fork-lift truck and order picker at differing heights and reach. Overloading could cause excessive strain of the lifting forks distorting them beyond their designed profile, thereby reducing their specified capacity. It should be noted that order pickers and some fork-lift trucks are used to raise and lower personnel. Carrying out such operations on equipment that has been excessively loaded places the person being raised at a significant risk. The measurements and checks that Thurra engineers carry out at every examination are evaluated and brought to the attention of the owner operator if over loading has been identified.

Thurra’s team of experienced engineers will assess the overall condition of fork-lift trucks and order pickers, advising on the condition of the equipment and whether or not any remedial action is required to ensure that they continue to operate safely and effectively. A formal written report is produced which should be kept as confirmation of the equipment’s status and if required, presented to the maintenance contractor.

If you require advice or help on any of the above, please speak to your Insurance Broker who will be happy to arrange a call from Thurra for technical advice, or a visit by an experienced engineer.


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