As the ‘medical considerations’ section of the HSE publication Rider-operated lift trucks explains, although there is no specific legal requirement for forklift truck drivers to undergo medicals, it is recommended that they do. This is because an employer would need to ensure those selected are able to safely control and operate lift trucks. Drivers should be reasonably fit, both physically and mentally, and possess the learning ability and potential to become competent operators.
Workers should be free from disabilities, either physical or psychological, that might pose a threat to their own health and safety or the safety of others who might be affected by them operating lift trucks. Fitness for operating should always be judged on a case-by-case basis. You will need to do a risk assessment to identify any hazards associated with the job and working environment and to identify areas of concern. Never allow anyone who is unfit because of alcohol or drugs (prescription or recreational) to drive a lift truck.
People with disabilities do not need to be excluded and may have developed skills which compensate for their disability. You should obtain medical advice about their suitability for the particular work they will be required to do. Reasonable adjustments may be required to enable some disabled people to work as lift-truck operators. The Equality Act 2010 is likely to apply.
The Drivers’ Medical Unit at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) publishes guidance aimed at health professionals regarding lift trucks on the road, but this can be applied to all work with lift trucks.
For most work with lift trucks, a standard of fitness equivalent to that for the Group 1 entitlement (ordinary driving licence holders) would be appropriate. Activities such as working in a particularly demanding environment, working at night, or moving highly toxic or explosive materials would probably be more appropriate to the Group 2 entitlement (heavy goods vehicle licence holders).
You may choose to screen potential operators before placement and then follow the guidelines for Group 2 licences, which require medical examination every five years from age 45, and every year from age 65 (in line with licence renewal periods). Always seek medical advice where there is any doubt about a person’s fitness to operate a lift truck.
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