Statutory Forklift Truck Inspections: What do I need to do by law? 

Regular forklift inspections are not only important to maintain uptime as part of a regular maintenance programme, but they are also enshrined in law to protect the safety of operators and all those around them.  

All forklift trucks must by law have a Thorough Examination carried out by a Competent Person at least once a year. In some applications and environments, the mandatory interval may be reduced to six or even four months due to additional stresses and strains placed on the equipment. 

The Thorough Examination is not part of a forklift’s regular maintenance programme and so is not normally included in a maintenance agreement unless specifically requested. Rather, it is a legal requirement under two key pieces of Health and Safety legislation: 

  • LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) 
  • PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) 

The forklift equivalent of an MOT for cars, a Thorough Examination certifies that at the time of testing, all safety-critical components have been formally inspected and assessed as being in a safe condition. It is designed to ensure the safety of the operator as well as others in the workplace. 

If defects are found that are imminently dangerous, e.g. the forks are worn by 10% or the mast chain is worn by 3%, the truck must be removed from service straight away and not used until the unsafe components have been replaced. The Competent Person carrying out the inspection also has a legal duty to inform HSE (The Health and Safety Executive).  

If the defects do not immediately affect safety, the Component Person can still issue a Report of Thorough Examination (the equivalent of an MOT certificate), but it will state the defects along with a deadline for their repair. The forklift user is responsible for ensuring the repairs are carried out by that date.  

For each forklift in service, regardless of whether it is owned, leased or hired on a long-term basis, the user must have a current Report of Thorough Examination and be able to produce it when required by an HSE enforcement officer.  

If the forklift is provided on a short-term contract of less than a year, the hire company should provide the user with a copy of the current Report of Thorough Examination. 

In any case, forklift users have a legal responsibility to ensure all their trucks have undergone a Thorough Inspection during the mandatory interval, that any defects stated on the Report of Thorough Inspection are resolved within the timeframe given, and that the Report of Thorough Inspection can be produced on demand. 

Failure to do so will result in a hefty fine, potential imprisonment, and puts people’s lives at risk. 

Learn more about how a fork lift tool like the Fork Wear Gauge can be used in a Thorough Examination.