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What does a forklift ‘thorough examination’ consist of?

A forklift truck, while a vital part of your work equipment, can also be incredibly dangerous if it is not properly looked after. A thorough examination is a way to ensure that your forklift is in a safe condition to use. But not every examination, no matter how thorough, is a “thorough examination”.

To be classed as a thorough examination, for health and safety purposes, your checks need to comply with both the LOLER 98 and PUWER 98 regulations. These rules cover the lifting parts and the other parts of the forklift respectively, and both sets of checks are an essential part of keeping your forklift safe to use. The UK has a national standard called CTFS for forklift thorough examinations which, when followed, will ensure that you meet all of your legal duties.

What does a CFTS thorough examination include?

According to the CFTS a full, truly thorough examination will include all of the following elements. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s important that you seek specialist advice.


Forklift forks are subjected to constant, intense stress and abrasion. They should be checked for signs of wear, cracking, abrasion, and splaying. It’s also important to ensure the forks are the correct capacity for the loads being lifted, and ensure that the means of fork location, and end stops, are in good condition.

Attachments/ side shift

If permanently attached, include these in your truck’s usual thorough examination schedule. Removable attachments should be checked separately, at least twice a year. Check for cracks, corrosion, distortion, secure mounting, and smooth even movement.


Check the fork arm carrier for cracking or distortion. If your truck is fitted with a backrest extension, then check its mounting and soundness. Side-shifts checks must make sure that the apparatus moves in a controlled, smooth fashion.

Load backrest

Loose or badly mounted backrests can not only cause the load to fall from your truck but can also be a hazard in their own right. Make sure that yours is securely mounted and not cracked or corroded.


Sudden chain failure can be lethal. Careful measurement of the chain to check for expansion due to corrosion or damage is vital. An increase in chain length of just 3% is grounds for immediate replacement. Expansion below 3% necessitates an in-depth inspection to ensure that the equipment is still safe to use. Anchor points and pulleys also need a detailed inspection for any damage or wear which may either cause them to fail or damage the chains themselves.

Mast/ boom

The mast (or boom on a telehandler) must be checked over its full length and range of movement. Hydraulic systems need to be checked carefully too.

Tilt mechanism

Examiners will look with care at the tilt mechanism, searching for damage and signs of ‘scoring’ marks on the cylinders. Again, the hydraulics also need to be carefully checked for wear, leaks, and general condition.

Hydraulic systems

Poorly maintained or damaged hydraulic systems can experience catastrophic failure, explode, and cause serious injuries or even fatalities. Cylinders, hoses, pumps, and reservoirs must all be checked for any issues. Filters can be checked for anything which might give cause for concern, and load-handling elements can be stress tested for prolonged periods to ensure that the system maintains pressure.

Rating plate

Clear and intelligible rating information is vital to ensure that fork lifts are only used for tasks they are capable of performing. If the truck has a load capacity indicator, it’s important to ensure that it is functioning and visible to the operator.

Steering and controls

All of the controls, including the steering, must be checked to make sure they work as expected, have been clearly labelled, and are free from corrosion, damage, or signs of failure.

Safety equipment

Overhead guards, seatbelts, and any other safety equipment must be in full working order, and not missing.

Structural integrity

This includes the chassis and any cab, both of which must be free of damage or corrosion, and structurally sound.

Wheels and tyres

The forces on a fork lift truck’s wheels and tyres are far in excess of the forces on a car’s wheels. Check that the wheels and tyres are the right type for the truck, that they are not damaged, and that tyres are intact.


This must be present, of the right mass, and properly mounted. A counterweight coming free unexpectedly is not only a fatal hazard in its own right, but can cause a truck to become critically unstable or even topple.

Traction system

Last but not least, the truck’s traction and power systems need to be checked to make sure they work safely and efficiently.

Qualified engineers

As an owner or operator of fork lift trucks, you have a legal obligation to ensure that thorough examinations are carried out and that your equipment is safe to use. Our engineers can provide the expertise and guidance to help you with this important task. Contact us today for advice or a quote.


Our engineers conform to guidelines laid out by the CFTS, All have a minimum of 5 years experience, have undergone the correct training, along with regular re test training.

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