Telescopic Handlers: Ensure
Staff are Qualified

Lantra approved Training Provider Bertie Tupper discussed the importance of telescopic handler training with the upcoming spring cultivation season in a recent article in NFU's British Farmer & Grower Magazine.

Telescopic handlers enter one of their busiest periods on arable farms when shifting seed and fertiliser during crop establishment. Those who operate them must be trained and qualified to protect their safety and that of those around them, and to ensure the farm business is protected.

With many farmers forced by the wet autumn and winter into upping their spring crop area, machinery operators are likely to come under increased pressure during the spring cultivation and drilling period to cover larger than-planned workloads within a short window, particularly as this may clash with spraying and fertiliser application on established winter crops.

While it’s essential to ensure operators always have up-to-date training and qualifications for the equipment they are being asked to work with, pressured circumstances can force staff into roles they are not trained for, and onto equipment with which they may not be familiar. To avoid this, ensure all staff are trained to operate a machine, no matter how briefly or infrequently.

That’s the view of Bertie Tupper, who runs Lantra approved training and testing business Bertie Tupper and Co. Investment in training from a Lantra approved trainer will pay off in terms of ensuring staff are fully-versed in the safe operation of equipment to protect themselves and those around them.

“It also has a significant role in ensuring equipment is operated to its full potential, so that productivity and efficiency are maximised, and fuel use minimised,” pointed out Mr Tupper.

“In this way, investment in training and qualifications will not only help guard against injuries and worse from improper operation, but it will have a positive effect on the profitability of a farm business.”

Hay Bales on FarmWith regard to telescopic handlers and the central role they play at this time of year, the Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice L117 requires that such machines are driven only by authorised, trained and competent people who have completed the appropriate training and testing conducted by a Lantra approved trainer.

Lantra’s courses are designed to provide operators with the essential knowledge and skills required to operate a telescopic handler and, at the completion of the examination/test after the training, with an industry-recognised certificate to recognise and prove their competence.

Assessed training courses cover areas such as pre-use inspection of the machine, controls and instruments, safe starting, moving, stopping and steering, operation of hydraulic controls, weight assessment, handling pallets, containers, bulk packs and other industry associated loads, driving on/off ramps and inclines, driving over rough terrain, loading and unloading, and stacking and de-stacking. Also covered are machine stability, the operators’ safety code and the principles of operating on rough terrain.

“Training and examination can take place over a one or two-day course depending on candidate experience, and on the premises of the candidate or their employer, if required, utilising the candidate’s/employer’s own telescopic handler,” said Mr Tupper.

“However, any machine used for operator training must have an up-to-date Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) certificate. Not only is the operator tested for safe operation, but the machine should come with proof it’s safe for the work it is doing.

“Ensure that any machine that is to be used for training and testing is also fitted with attachments that are suitable, compatible with the machine, properly maintained and safe to use.

“The operator should be familiar with the controls and have read and understood the operator’s manual. and all recommended pre-use checks should have been carried out, including a check that the overload indicator is in working order. Cab glass and mirrors should be clean, mirrors properly adjusted and windscreen wipers working properly. These may seem like basic things, but it’s crucial to have them right in a telehandler to be used for training and testing – and for daily work.”