Fork-lift truck rentals companies have been accused of “cutting corners” in safety and vehicle maintenance in order to keep rental prices low.
A survey conducted by the Fork-Lift Truck Association (FLTA) has found that weekly hire prices are now almost a fifth of their original price in 1989, due to increasing competition within the industry. The survey also found that reach trucks have almost halved in price. A two tonne electric counterbalance truck costs an average of just £93 today, instead of £191 (adjusted) in 1989.
The association has warned that such strong reductions are unsustainable and represent “very real potential to damage the industry’s safety and service standards.”
The FLTA believes that some fork lift truck rental firms have cut preventative maintenance by as much as 50% in order to allow them to continue dropping their rental prices.
FLTA Chief Executive David Ellison warned that such reductions could lead to the leasing of old, poorly maintained fork trucks which would be liable to break down more frequently and could “create a risk for the operator, other employees, the premises and goods. The response time when there are problems will be long and will get longer as the number of problems increase. All the problems will be blamed on the user and his operators.”
Current legislation places the responsibility for maintaining fork-trucks on the customer who rents them, instead of the hire company.
A statement from the Health and Safety Executive explained: “Where lift trucks are on long-term hire, users have a duty to ensure that they are safe for their employees to use and are thoroughly examined at appropriate intervals. These examinations may be arranged by users or hire companies by agreement. They do not remove the need for users to ensure that necessary inspections and pre-use checks are carried out and defects reported and remedied as necessary.”