Skip to main content

The fork truck industry has been going through a few changes lately due to the advent of the ABA (Awarding Bodies Association 2012).  The biggest change to come out of it is the new test standards that all accredited centres must adhere too from September 2017.

This blog will look at the Practical test marking sheet, it will explain what the penalty score is and what the examiner will be looking for when carrying out the test itself.

This blog will look at the 37 marking elements which are the same for both Counterbalance and Reach trucks.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions using the relevant boxes at the bottom of the page.  We look forward to hearing from you.







Mounts/dismounts  incorrectly

Inserts key or turns the power on before mounting, fails to use secure and appropriate hand or foot holds correctly, mounts/dismounts on the wrong side of the machine, holds steering wheel or a control lever, fails to look all round before dismounting and alights in the incorrect manner e.g. jumps off. Mounting and dismounting should be conducted facing the lift truck. A penalty should be awarded each time any of these faults occur.



Limb/body outside confines of truck

Drives with a limb outside confines of the truck. Whilst it is necessary for operators to glance out occasionally so that their heads are outside the truck lines e.g. when aligning the truck or its load in a confined area etc, fingers, hands, arms legs and feet must always remain inside the confines of the machine. Where an operator has to lean outside the confines of the lift truck for the purpose of observation or alignment, the truck must be stationary with the controls in neutral and the parking brake applied and an all round visual check carried out before.



Fails to check all round

Fails to check all round before moving off and whilst operating. A thorough check all round is essential before moving off. Whilst manoeuvring observation of the rear end, fork and load swing and when operating the hydraulic controls e.g. raising/lowering tilting reaching etc. A perfunctory glance, i.e. merely ‘going through the motions’ is not sufficient and should result in a penalty.



Fails to look in direction of travel

Fails to look in the direction of travel whilst the truck is moving. Travelling with forks/load leading, this is self explanatory. When travelling with fork/load trailing, operators should be looking in the direction of travel with the occasional glance at the forks/load for possible fouling and to ensure load security.



Fails to use appropriate safety device

The lift truck horn should be used whenever there is the requirement to warn others of the lift truck presence if the operator suspects that they may not have seen or if the lift truck has to pass through a blind corner or entrance. If fitted seat belts should be worn, safety devices such as presence lights, flashing beacons should all be activated.



Unintentionally travels in wrong direction

Unintentionally selects wrong direction control and moves under power before correcting.



Brakes  harshly/erratically

Emergency type braking where it is not, necessary



Fails to release parking brake

Attempts to move the truck without releasing the parking brake in either direction. This will not apply on lift truck types that have ‘auto release’ type parking brakes.



Rides foot brake

Rides foot brake unnecessarily. No faults sould be recorded whenever the truck requires to be controlled in this manner during tight manoeuvres. No more than one fault should

be recorded under this heading at each stage of the test, irrespective of whether the fault occurs frequently during the stage.



Operates hydraulic controls when moving

Whenever the hydraulic controls are operated the lift truck is to be placed in a secure state i.e. parking brake applied and in neutral. Where the configuration of the lift truck does not facilitate neutral no penalties are to be awarded. Penalties are to be awarded for any adjustment of the hydraulic controls whilst the truck is in motion.



Selects wrong hydraulic control

Selects and operates wrong hydraulic function [operates wrong lever or operates lever in wrong direction]. Fault to be recorded whenever the hydraulic pump motor is energised or mechanical movement of the mast/fork occurs.



Excessive use of hydraulic controls

Operators should not be penalised for failing to judge correct height of fork tips or tilt angle at first attempt during stacking/de stacking operations. One adjustment is allowed per operation, but where more than one adjustment is made

i.e. either by lowering or raising the fork’s etc. faults should be recorded for each additional adjustment at each operation. Only record adjustments when movement actually occurs. Penalties are to be awarded where a candidate operates more than one hydraulic control simultaneously (paddling the controls).



Rough use of hydraulic controls

Uses hydraulic controls roughly or unsympathetically. Harsh application, pumping with the levers and continuing to hold the lever in the engaged position (motor engaged) when the operation is complete.



Fails to hold steering wheel when moving

The steering wheel or assistor (if fitted) must be held firmly by at least one of the operators hands whenever the truck is moving. Penalties should not be awarded if the candidate releases the steering wheel/assister when the lift truck is in a secure state i.e. park brake applied and in neutral



 Fork arms/load too high when travelling

Travels or turns with the forks/load above correct travel height. This refers to travelling [not inching forwards or reverse for alignment at face of stack] with heels of forks/ load more than 100mm above the height recommended for the truck in use (e.g. a recommended 100/150mm plus 100mm = 200/250mm).



 Fork arms/load too low when travelling

Travels or turns with forks/load below the height recommended for the truck in use, where there is a risk of the forks/load coming into contact with the ground.



 Incorrect tilt when travelling

Fork arms/load not tilted correctly for travel. Whilst travelling with an unladen lift truck the fork arms should be adequately tilted back from the horizontal as recommended for the lift truck in use. On trucks which have above average available back tilt it is not always necessary to apply full tilt. Whilst travelling with a laden truck the amount of back tilt must be adequate and appropriate as recommended for the type of load being transported and the environment in which the truck is operating.



 Touches course/racking/load

Minor contact with or touches any part of the test course, due to a steering/judgement error. To be interpreted as making contact with any part of the truck/load however slight between:

  • sides of chicane or the working aisle
  • racking uprights or beams (above and below)
  • adjacent stacks or supporting stacks. (see disqualification for violent collision)



Shunts in chicane

Shunts to negotiate chicane. A ‘shunt’ occurs when the operator’s progress through the chicane is interrupted by the truck being manoeuvred in both directions in order to assist in alignment. A fault should be recorded for each shunt, regardless of distance travelled in opposite direction to that of the overall manoeuvre.



 Incorrect set down at vertical face

Fails to deposit load correctly at vertical face. The load must be deposited square on to the vertical face and within 150mm, but not touching. (See plan of course).



 Shunts when stacking/ destacking

At each stacking/destacking operation, operators should not be penalised for failing to line up correctly on the first

attempt. One ‘shunt’ is to be allowed per operation, however where more than one adjustment is made i.e. where the truck moves away from the stack and then moves toward the stack, faults should be recorded for each additional shunt at each stacking/destacking operation.



 Fails to apply parking brake or engage neutral

 Fails to apply parking brake and place direction controls in neutral when operating the hydraulic controls. Holding the truck on the footbrake or inching pedal is not acceptable. Where the lift truck has automatic parking brakes or the configuration of the lift truck does not facilitate neutral, no penalties are to be awarded. The lift truck manufacturers hand book should be consulted for specific instructions on operating procedure.



 Fork arms not central under load

Fork arms more than 40mm off centre when lifted. This fault can only be recorded when the operator actually engages the load by lifting it off the floor, stack or racking beam/shelf.



 Fork arms rubbing (entry/withdrawl)

Wooden pallets: this refers to the forks rubbing against the top or bottom deck, fouling the dividing timbers or blocks. Corner post pallets/stillages/plastic boxes: applies to the forks rubbing against the underside of the pallet or the top of the lower pallet and/or its load, fouling the corner posts and cupped feet.



 Fork arms not fully inserted

 Load not housed as close as possible against the heel of both fork arms (see disqualification operating dangerously).



 Mast base touches stack/load

If the mast base or reach mechanism including the reach legs comes into contact with any loads or racking systems whilst conducting stacking or destacking operations then a penalty should be awarded.

(see disqualification for violent collision)



 Fork tips touch stack/load

Tips of the fork arms or load make contact with pallet, rack, stack or vertical face This refers to the operators weakness in judging distances between the tips of the forks and a) the leading edge of a load b) pallets. racking, stacks or the vertical face.

(see disqualification for violent collision)



 Load arms not level

Fork arms not level during insertion or withdrawal. When laden the load must be level prior to depositing onto the floor/load bearing beams or structure. Faults are to be recorded at the point of actual deposit or lift.



 Load incorrectly stacked

This applies when a load has been actually deposited and the operation completed. When placed into a racking

systems all loads must be uniformly distributed on the load bearing beams. Faults should be recorded when the load is:

  • stacked out of alignment with base load
  • stacked out of alignment with the racking
  • placed out of alignment with the adjacent stacks



 Wheels not straight

On completion of the turn in the aisle prior to any hydraulic functions being performed any steering lock must be removed and the steering axle wheels aligned for straight ahead before attempting pallet engagement.



 Falls to apply parking brake or engage neutral

When preparing the lift truck for parking, the park brake and neutral must be applied. Where the lift truck has automatic parking brakes or the configuration of the lift truck does not facilitate neutral, no penalties are to be awarded. The lift truck manufacturer’s hand book should be consulted for specific instructions on operating procedure.



 Fails to apply toward tilt

The forks are to be tilted forward so that the chamfered underside of the forks is substantially parallel to the ground. If the lift truck configuration does not allow for sufficient forward tilt movement, full forward tilt available should be applied. Tilt must be applied prior to lowering the forks.



 Fails to lower fork arms

As far as reasonably practicable, after being tilted forward the forks should be lowered until full ground contact has been made with the chamfered underside of the forks. The heels of the forks should be as low as reasonably practicable. No penalty will be awarded in situations where the heels do not touch the ground but the fork chamfer is in full ground contact.



   Fails to switch      off/remove key

This must be completed before the operator dismounts. Penalty to be awarded in full if the operator switches off but fails to remove the key. Where key card or other electronic control systems are in use the lift truck must be shut down in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions prior to the operator dismounting.



 Wheels not straight

 Fails to leave wheels in a straight ahead position.



 Lowers load onto reach legs

This refers to when the operator unintentionally lowers the load/pallet onto the reach legs, before reaching out or

when returning to the travel position with a laden truck after completing a destacking operation. When this occurs as a result of selecting the wrong hydraulic control (see item 11). Record under one fault heading only.



 Travels with reach extended

The mast must be fully retracted during unladen or laden travel. This fault does not refer to inching with the reach extended when:

  • carrying out minor adjustments for fork/load alignment
  • ensuring fork arms are fully inserted.


Please note box number 36 and 37 are specific to reach trucks.  The examiner at the end of the test will total up the scores, an operator who has scored less than 41 points will have passed their practical element of the training course unless they have accumulated more than 3 crosses in a 5 point box e.g an operator gains 4 crosses in box 37 will automatically fail this element.

Please comment and let us know your thoughts on this new test.