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Essential Standard No.

Safe use of telehandlers

Key Messages
 Ensure that the use of telehandlers is properly planned and managed
 Ensure that the telehandler is in safe condition and all required inspections have
been carried out
 Only use a telehandler if a safer method is not available e.g. a purpose made crane
 Provide adequate training for operators, supervisors and managers
 Ensure site conditions allow the safe movement of telehandlers e.g. sound surfaces
and avoid excessive slopes

Telehandlers are widely used throughout industry for moving materials and goods, but they
also feature prominently is workplace incidents. The purpose of this document is to provide a
standard and examples of good practice which encourage the correct selection and use of

Managing lifting operations

All work involving telehandlers must be planned by competent person, appropriately
supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

Risk assessments should identify the hazards associated with operating telehandlers. Lifting
plans should be used to assist in planning safe lifting operations.

Instructions for the safe operation of telehandlers should be briefed to all operators during
induction and as part of lift plan briefings and should include:
 Authorisation for use and confirmation of competence
 Familiarisation and pre-use checks
 Knowing limitations of machine – including when lifting in different configurations
 Awareness of the environment
 Requirement to avoid doing ‘unplanned favours’

Fig 1: Example of pocket cards used as a reminder of key points

Essential Standard No. 4 – Safe use of telehandlers V1 2011 Page 1 of 4

Essential Standard No. 4

Safe use of telehandlers

Selecting equipment
The selection of the most suitable equipment for the task during the planning stage is very
important. There have been an increasing number of incidents where mobile plant and
transport has been used for functions for which they are not primarily designed. Lifting
operations should be planned so as not to default to a piece of equipment with a lifting
attachment when a purpose made item of plant can reasonably be used e.g. use a crane for
a lifting operation, in preference to a telehandler with a jib attachment (see fig 2).

When selecting the equipment the following points should be considered and noted:

 Know the machine – ensure the manufacturers specification and guidelines are
observed at all times
 Machines should be fitted with Rated Capacity Indicators (RCI), often known as Load
Moment Indicators. These give warning of approaching overload and should always
be switched on during load handling operations. RCIs must be maintained and tested
according to the manufacturer’s or authorised supplier’s instructions as part of the
inspection regime required under PUWER. Operators should be made aware that it is
an offence to interfere intentionally with the proper working of such a device (Section
8 of the HSW Act).
 Limits of the equipment – the load capacity of the truck will vary according to the
extension of the boom and its degree of elevation
 Modes of operations – some machines have 2 modes of operation, these being fork
lift (where ability to extend boom is disabled) and telehandler (fully functional)
 Lifting configurations – on some machines the lifting capability changes depending on
the method used to carry the load e.g. underslung loads rather than carried on the
 Load charts can depend on method of attaching load and use of stabilisers
 Attachments will alter the load capacity and centre of gravity of the machine
 A longitudinal stability indicator does not measure the weight of the load. It is
designed to reduce the risk of the machine tipping forward and is not a safe load

Essential Standard No. 4 – Safe use of telehandlers V1 2011 Page 2 of 4

Essential Standard No. 4

Safe use of telehandlers

This telehandler toppled over

during a lifting activity and
came to rest upon a jib crane
which was also on site

Fig 2: Correct selection of equipment for the task

Operators must be properly trained in all aspects of the machines operation and hold a valid
competency card e.g., CPCS or NPORS. Employers are expected to observe day to day
activities to ensure ongoing competence. As a guide, operators should be:

 Sufficiently mature and over 18 years of age

 Fit, with particular regard to eyesight, hearing and reflexes and medically examined at
least every 5 years
 Physically capable of operating the machine without undue fatigue
 Able to judge distance. height, speed and perspective
 Competent in the use of and familiar with the piece of equipment being used

Operators should be given authorisation to operate the machine and employers should take
reasonable steps to prevent unauthorised operation of machines. Operators must be
provided with opportunity to read the operating manual and familiarise themselves with the
equipment to be used.

The working area

When planning traffic routes, attention should be paid to reducing risks at points where
telehandlers may meet other vehicles or pedestrians. Routes must be suitable with regard to
width, gradient, stability and free from obstructions. Where possible, pedestrians should be
prohibited from entering areas where telehandlers are operating. Where this is not possible
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Essential Standard No. 4

Safe use of telehandlers

and assessment of the risks must be made and, where necessary, control measures
implemented to adequately control the risks.

 When travelling up or down slopes with a load, the boom should face uphill. As far as
possible avoid travelling across slopes.
 When travelling on public roads, attachments and loads should be carried in such a
way that they do not present a hazard to other road users. The boom should be in the
lowest practicable position.
 Before loads are raised, a check should be made for overhead obstructions.
 Loads should not be raised where there is a possibility of contact with or arcing from
overhead power lines.
 Restraining systems, such as seat belts should be worn whenever there is a risk of
injury due to overturning. Doors should be kept shut to prevent the operator being
ejected and crushed in the event of an overturn.
 Visibility aids or banksman should be employed to control the risks associated with
poor visibility e.g. as a result of boom position
 Banksmen should be in a safe place and visible to the operator at all times.
 Personnel should remain clear of the machine and arrangements should be in place
to prevent unintentional movement of the controls when personnel are in the
immediate vicinity.

All mobile plant, including telehandlers must be inspected, by a competent person, upon
arrival to site to confirm that it complies with the relevant statutory requirements and that it is
safe to use.

Always follow maintenance required by manufacturers’ manuals. Thorough examinations are

required to be carried out, by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, at
appropriate intervals. Daily inspections must be carried out by the operator and weekly
inspections carried out by a competent person. Defects must be recorded, reported and
remedied as necessary.

An example of good practice is to use a checklist to ensure that all areas, that may affect the
safe operation of the machine, are covered in the pre-use check.

Lift trucks fitted with RCIs should not be used if it is suspected that the RCI is not working or
is defective. The RCI is provided as an additional safety device and should not be used
solely as an indicator of the limits of the machine.

Essential Standard No. 4 – Safe use of telehandlers V1 2011 Page 4 of 4

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