Telehandlers – Safe Operation and Management of These Versatile Machines

We know that telescopic handlers are used in a variety of industries as they are extremely versatile. With multi-purpose capabilities, telehandlers can be used to lift, move, and place materials, which on many sites, provides a complete utility for most, if not all, operations. The wide range of attachments and sizes of these machines including grabs, buckets, clamps, skips, work platforms and crane jibs make them ever more popular across all UK industry sectors.

During 2023, Certora delivered telehandler training to more than 900 delegates. Courses spanned all different types and sizes of machines with varying attachments, from small teletrucks to large 360 slew machines. Certora continues to see an increase in demand for this machine and offer some key areas of consideration for those looking to become trained operators and for many managers or business owners utilising this equipment within their working environment.

Challenges for Operators

The biggest challenge when operating a telehandler is visibility. The boom should be positioned low while travelling so it does not obscure the operator’s vision. If this isn’t possible or if it compromises stability, then they may travel in reverse only if it is safe to do so. Before reversing, operators should be vigilant and look around the vehicle before setting off. A vehicle banksman can be used to guide the driver when reversing is deemed necessary, providing they stand in a visible position.

To maximise visibility, mirrors and cab windows should be kept clean and be positioned best for the driver. Windscreen wipers should be fitted and in a good working condition too. Operators should remember the machine’s blind spots and check for pedestrians and other hazards when manoeuvring.

When changing attachments, it is vital that the operator remembers their training and reassesses the safe working capacity of the machine. A new load and the associated attachment can fundamentally change the operational use of the machine and the height and reach ratio of placing a load.

Managing Operations

A site managers role is to oversee and supervise operations, as well as to ensure best practice is being adhered to. In some cases, managers and supervisors may find this difficult especially when they themselves have no operational experience of using the equipment. Certora can offer a solution for those individuals through their Management of Mobile Plant Training Course. A one-day course that is bespoke to the business operation and designed to cover all relevant types of equipment on site including the use of associated attachments and loads.

Understanding operational certification can be quite a challenge for managers, supervisors, and operators. The below table shows the categories stipulated by one of the UK’s accrediting bodies. However, these categories are not always reflective across the various UK awarding organisations which can lead to some confusion and uncertainty of suitability. Always check an operative's certification for the machine type and capacity including lift height. If you are in doubt, Certora’s technical team are happy to answer any questions you have relating to certification and equipment operations.

ABA Telehandler Categories


Rough Terrain Variable Reach Lift Truck – Up to 9m Lift


Rough Terrain High Lift Telescopic Trucks – Above 9m Lift


Industrial Variable Reach Lift Truck – Up To 9m Lift


Industrial High Lift Telescopic Truck – Above 9m Lift


Variable Reach /Tele, 360 Slew Up to 9 m Lift


Variable Reach/Tele, 360 Slew Above 9m Lift

Knowing your equipment

As manufacturers continuously work with industry specialists to improve machine versatility and durability, it is important that managers and supervisors know the categories of equipment that they have onsite and recognise when a new machine is introduced to their operation.

This knowledge will help them to identify any potential skills gaps where conversion training is required.

Not sure of the training you need? Speak to the team at Certora - they would be happy to support you with answers to your questions

Associated Businesses

  • Certora Training (combining Mentor Training Solutions and SERAC businesses) are the UK’s leading provider of equipment operator training, assessment, qualifications and associated safety courses for the extractives, waste, recyclin...