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Standardised training key for reducing accidents

AITT conference reveals steps for effective workplace transport training and how to stay on the right side of the law

The Association of Industrial Truck Trainers is continuing its efforts to improve industry training standards having recently hosted a topical online event featuring key players from across the sector.

Audiences heard insightful presentations including real-world case histories from well-known names, as well as essential advice from the HSE.

AITT Technical Manager Liam Knight highlighted why it is essential for employers and recruitment agencies to understand workplace transport groupings, and how to assess new operator certificates in order to assign correct training.

“Truck categories vary by lifting capacity, lift height, towing capacity, steering, and purpose, among other things, and this means training differs greatly for each truck,” he explained. “If you’re responsible for verifying operator certificates you should check that the training company and certificate is accredited, look for the ABA truck category code, check that the instructor is registered, and look for an accreditation verification number, such as ACORNS for AITT. If you’re ever unsure check with the relevant accrediting body. Don’t be afraid to challenge certificates.” 

In a poll of conference attendees, 18% said they only accept accredited certificates, whereas 36% said they accepted all qualifications (including non-accredited) but also assessed operator ability and offered training.

When it comes to putting training into practice, Gary Rowland, Group Compliance Training Manager at nationwide food distributor Greencore, offered the benefit of his experience. Gary revealed how Greencore implemented in-depth training programmes that played a core role in reducing the number of impacts on site by 50 percent. 

“We wanted to introduce a new standard,” said Gary. “We hired a dedicated MHE trainer, harmonised our fleet management system, introduced rigorous auditing, streamlined our operator pool and improved their skills. The 3 tips we would offer other organisations are: use an accrediting body to demonstrate you’re working to a set standard, generate data as it will make it easier to engage operators and stakeholders, and finally validate operator competence, as familiarisation training is key.”

A conference poll revealed that 23% of attendees review operator performance by having managers provide a constant review, while 8% just offer periodic refresher training, whereas 69% use both methods.

Also providing a case history was Simon Ambridge, Risk and Compliance Manager at drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark. Simon outlined the proactive procedures his team took to engage its workforce, such as periodic observations to monitor skills, and operator questionnaires to gather feedback.

“We partnered with AITT to ensure that we had access to all the latest legislation and best practice guidance,” explained Simon. "We also needed a process for validating agency operators and the robust ACORNS system with AITT has provided us with an extra level of confidence.

“Our incident rate has dropped right down, which is evidence that our structured behavioural training programme is paying dividends. My recommendation to other companies looking to improve MHE safety is to accept that your systems may not be perfect, and to not be afraid to engage with an accrediting body who can readily support you.”

David Lee of the HSE delivered an illuminating presentation on what happens should an incident occur on site. He said: “The HSE investigates accidents to identify what went wrong, whether the law has been broken, what further action is needed and whether the correct actions are taken to ensure accidents don’t happen again. The HSE has the power to interview anyone about what happened, examine and copy documents, and record findings in writing. If the law is breached, the company may be prosecuted and fined considerable amounts. To comply with the law, employers should ensure that employees have the skills, knowledge and ability to carry out their duties safely.”

AITT Managing Director Adam Smith added: “I am very grateful to our speakers as well as all those who attended our online conference. As these presentations showed, there are many easy and effective methods companies can use to improve workplace transport training. We hope to have provided helpful insight and practical guidance that will further support truck trainers, recruitment agencies and operators in working to better standards throughout the sector.”

The AITT webinar is available to watch on demand here. Individual speaker presentations can be found on the AITT website: https://www.aitt.co.uk/news/the-key-to-essential-training-panellists-presentations/