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What is a Thorough Examination?

Good maintenance reduces injury and saves on replacement costs

Author: Dee Jones/07 February 2020/Categories: HEALTH & SAFETY, Creating safe working conditions, Safety when working at height , WORKPLACE ADVICE, Maintenance

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Our service teams have been carrying out 'Thorough Examinations' on lifting equipment across the whole of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Over 70 sites have been visited to ensure that manual lifting products like stackers, hand winches, scissor lift tables and pallet trucks are safe for staff to use. If equipment is seen to be in good working order, then there is no need for repair or service to those items. That in turn limits the need for any early replacement due to the continued operation of the equipment in a neglected state.


What is a Thorough Examination?
A Thorough Examination is a bit like a car’s MOT. Thorough Examination and MOT are both means of certifying that, at the time of testing, all components which have a bearing on safety have been formally inspected and assessed as being in a safe condition.

Is a Thorough Examination a legal requirement?
In short, yes. It is required under two pieces of Health and Safety legislation:

  • LOLER 98 (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) - which covers lifting components.
  • PUWER 98 (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) which deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres.

Just like a car’s MOT and 10,000-mile service are two different things, a Thorough Examination is distinctly different from a regular maintenance programme. It provides you with an endorsement that the equipment is safe to use.

What equipment requires a Thorough Examination?

service lifter

Any materials handling equipment which is capable of lifting to a height of more than 500mm from the ground will require a Thorough Examination. Such equipment includes forklift trucks, counterbalance machines, pallet stackers, scissor lifts, plus most other lifters and handlers.


pallet truck

Hand pallet trucks and low lift trucks (non-stacking equipment capable of lifting to 500mm or less) do not require Thorough Examination under LOLER 98, as they do not lift to the required height. However, operators of low-level movers are responsible for ensuring that the equipment is safe and fit for purpose under PUWER 98 and therefore operators may also specify a Thorough Examination for their low-level movers as a sensible measure in safety.

Whose job is it to arrange the service?
Where the employer is also the outright owner of the truck, the implication of this duty (in the light of LOLER 98 and PUWER 98) is clear: the employer must arrange a regular Thorough Examination schedule appropriate to the truck and its use. Clearly, a truck working in an outdoor environment will have different requirements than one being used in a warehouse. Exposure to the elements can affect the operation of any lifting equipment at a greater rate of degradation.

Does this apply if the equipment is rented?
If the truck is leased or rented on a long-term basis (12 months or more), the responsibilities are the same as if it was owned outright and the duty remains with the employer of the truck operator.

What about a short-term rental?
If the truck is provided on a short term basis (one day to one year) the rental company has responsibility for arranging Thorough Examination as its owner but the employer of the truck’s operator must still satisfy themselves that the truck carries a valid Thorough Examination – usually by insisting on having a copy of the Thorough Examination included with the rental documentation.

What else do I need to know?
The truck must have a valid Thorough Examination whenever it leaves a customer's ownership or hire undertaking. In effect, when it changes hands, or is transferred between companies, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, it still needs a valid certificate.

How often must a Thorough Examination be carried out?
At least every 12 months. Depending on the application, the intensity of use and the nature of any attachments, the regulations may require this interval to be reduced to 6 or even 4 months. The person carrying out the Thorough Examination, the ‘Competent Person’, will be able to determine the appropriate interval. The same person should also be consulted for advice on whether planned changes to the truck’s operation or configuration will alter during this interval.


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