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counterbalance lift truck test | 4KS Forklift Training

Counterbalance lift truck operator tests declined by 25%

Lift truck training and assessment statistics for 2020 reveal thousands of candidates are operating without up-to-date training, indicating an upcoming safety time bomb according to industry standards body RTITB.

Statistics from the UK and Ireland’s leading workplace transport training accrediting body show that counterbalance lift truck tests declined by almost 25% from 2019 to 2020, accounting for around 10,000 operators across all candidate types.

Laura Nelson, managing director for RTITB, said: “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of operator tests taking place each year was fairly steady, but we saw declines in all areas in 2020.

“COVID-19 did of course present risks and challenges for training and assessment, but operators without the correct training also pose a serious danger to the supply chain.”

counterbalance lift truck test | 4KS Forklift Training

Decline in Counterbalance lift truck tests

The number of counterbalance lift truck operators being tested for the first time was down by 29%, with an even bigger decline of 33% for reach truck operators.

Overall, across all candidate types, there were around 2,400 reach truck operator tests in 2020, compared to the previous year.

Nelson said: “With the number of new operators down by around 30% and overwhelming demand in the supply chain, it begs the question of who is filling the gaps?

counterbalance lift truck test | 4KS Forklift Training
counterbalance lift truck test | 4KS Forklift Training

“Are untrained people operating trucks? Or qualified operators working extremely long hours to cover the deficit and risking fatigue, which could also be jeopardising safe operation.”

Refresher training also saw a significant decline, with counterbalance lift truck tests down by 22% and reach truck operator tests by 23% from 2019 to 2020.

“Worryingly this means that almost a quarter of the candidates due for refresher training are potentially out there operating without any update on skills – how long before there is a serious incident as a result of this?” added Laura. “Some might suggest that these operators may have left the industry, but this is unlikely considering the huge demand on the supply chain during the pandemic.”

Forklift instructor examinations dropped 50% in 2020

counterbalance lift truck tests drop
counterbalance lift truck test | 4KS Forklift Training

As well as a decline in operator test numbers, lift truck instructor examinations have also seen a huge dip of 50% since 2020.

This lack of instructors could also be a key contributor to the deficit in operator training and testing, and also may dampen supply chain organisation’s efforts to catch up on operator training after 2020.

The HSE suggests that eLearning can be used for operator training and, according to Nelson, there is no “real need” to delay training as the industry has adapted to be as COVID-secure as is possible.

RTITB’s own eLearning programmes can be used to help top a qualified operator’s knowledge so they can extend their refresher period, or can be used to provide comprehensive, engaging novice theory training.

For more information on various types of forklift training courses out there, visit our forklift training course page or give us a call below.