Renting or buying? The biggest decision is choosing the right supplier

Whether you plan to own a fleet of trucks for many years or are renting one for just a few weeks, choosing a fork lift truck supplier is an important business decision.

After all, as the employer of the truck operator, the same legal responsibilities fall on your shoulders regardless of timescale or who actually owns the equipment (i.e. it’s your responsibility even if the truck is only on short-term hire).

That means you need to be certain that the truck is fit for purpose, properly maintained and safe to drive. It’s important to remember that fork lift trucks hospitalise or kill UK workers every day – so they're covered by an ever-changing framework of laws, regulations and best practice guidance.

The right fork lift supplier will be your partner in providing expert, up-to-the-minute advice as well as the staff and equipment you need to keep you efficient, productive and on the right side of the law.

So, where do you start? In a crowded market, full of gimmicks and special offers, it's important to find someone you can trust.

In the UK, around 100,000 UK companies put their faith in members of the Fork Lift Truck Association. Since 1972, those members have built, supplied, supported or maintained more than 1.5 million fork lift trucks.

That’s a lot of trucks… and a lot of know-how. And a lot of benefits to you as an end-user. For example, every FLTA member – from the smallest independent dealership to the largest global manufacturer – must abide by the same stringent Code of Practice; the industry's benchmark for integrity, professionalism and customer service.

Because the legislation is complicated, and best practice guidance is changing all the time, taking proper care requires specialised knowledge that is constantly updated. This is one of the services that the FLTA provides to your local member.

That member will employ a team of fully-trained, competent engineers, so your equipment will always be worked on by staff who have access to health and safety and other legal updates, refresher training and technical bulletins.

Importantly, it is incumbent on Association members to take the time to specify the equipment you actually need – not just what's in stock… and back it up with a robust after-sales package.

Usually, this will initially entail a site survey to ensure the truck they recommend matches your individual application – and arrives in a safe and serviceable condition. If it’s a rental truck it should also carry a current report of Thorough Examination (the industry’s equivalent of an MOT certificate).

Moreover, work with an FLTA member and all contracts and paperwork are fair and approved… and will be explained in language you can understand. This represents one of the biggest differentiators between FLTA members and other, unregulated suppliers – especially those that operate exclusively online.

Finally, should anything go wrong with your equipment, FLTA Members are required to respond quickly and employ experienced engineers to achieve a swift resolution to urgent service calls. And, in the unlikely event of a dispute, the Association gives you an authoritative, impartial route of appeal.

In summary, it really does make sense to look out for the FLTA logo before making any move to rent or buy a fork lift truck. That logo means the company has been checked, and has the right expertise, documentation, procedures and track record to be a great partner in an important investment. Without it, you'll need to check these things for yourself... or take your chances.

And remember: the FLTA Code is the industry's standard for professionalism and quality. So if a company is not a Member, perhaps you should ask yourself why.

Further information, resources and free fact sheets on these and other fork lift truck issues – as well as search function to find your local FLTA members – are available on this website. Similarly, if you are interested in joining the FLTA’s Safe User Group – set up to support owners and operators – you can find out more by visiting the Safe User Group section at: www.fork-truck.org.uk/safe-user-group.