It is a legal requirement to wear a seat belt whilst driving a car or other motor vehicle in the UK, but is it a legal requirement to wear one whilst operating a fork lift?
The answer to this is, for counterbalanced trucks, rough terrain trucks and sideloading trucks, an operator restraining system (e.g. seatbelt) must be fitted since 1998. Older trucks should have a restraining system fitted if the risk assessment indicates there ‘is a risk of the vehicle overturning and where the operator may be trapped between the truck and the ground’ (HSE Website – Lift Trucks – Frequently asked questions) and must comply by 2002 (PUWER 1998).
The HSE also state that ‘where restraining systems are fitted they should be used.’ (HSE Operator Approved Code of Practice – INDG 457).
For trucks manufactured prior to 1998, if the risk of overturning (as outlined above) may cause the operator to be trapped between the truck and ground – which in most cases of the outlined trucks will be true – a seat belt MUST be fitted by 2002 – therefore should be worn to comply.
In addition, any truck which is fitted with a ROPS – Roll-Over Protective Structure, should be fitted with a restraining system. Remember, a Seatbelt is an example of a restraining system, and therefore if present in this instance MUST be worn.
The ONLY exception to NOT wearing seatbelt is when reversing as per the DVSA advise for reversing Motor Vehicles, which allows the operator to comfortably and accurately operate the lift truck in reverse, a medical reason or where a risk assessment indicates an increased risk due to the seat belt – all of which are subject to risk assessment.
As the HSE Operator Approved Code of Practice is not law, the wearing of a seatbelt is NOT a legal requirement, however it could also be used as evidence in any relevant legal proceeding. Our advice is to wear a seatbelt unless a risk assessment states otherwise.
**PLEASE NOTE** It IS a legal requirement to wear a seatbelt on a Forklift Truck on public highways. This is however subject to the Road Traffic Act 1988.
If you have any questions regarding this article, are seeking advice regarding operator training on any of the stated forklifts, or are looking to booking basic operator or refresher training for your chosen forklift truck, please call the office on 0117 952 5625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.