Features & Interviews

An unstoppable FORS: How businesses are boosting their fleet efficiency and safety

11 July 2024 #Features & Interviews

The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) is a voluntary accreditation scheme designed to raise standards in fleet operations, addressing the issues of safety, fuel efficiency, economical operations and vehicle emissions.

FORS offers entry-level accreditation Bronze, focusing on legal compliance and basic safety requirements, as well as Silver, which entails further advancements in safety practices, management systems, and operational efficiency.

Gold is the highest level of FORS accreditation, and signifies exemplary performance across all aspects, including safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.

To ensure operators are maintaining the FORS Standard, on-site reapproval audits are conducted annually for Bronze and every two years for Silver and Gold.

Those renewing their Gold and Silver accreditations also have to provide evidence each year.

Kent-based transport and logistics company Salvatori is one operator that is reaping the benefits of its recently secured FORS Gold accreditation.

The journey to FORS Gold began in 2013, when Salvatori successfully achieved FORS Bronze and FORS Silver. The move to then go for Gold was driven by customer needs and the desire to operate to the highest standards.

To give the company the best stead to achieve FORS Gold, the team introduced advanced safety measures, including the implementation of cutting-edge safety technology, comprehensive driver training and advanced vehicle systems to reduce road accidents.

It has also purchased eco-friendly, fuel-efficient vehicles and intruded practices to minimise emissions, which has reduced the company’s carbon footprint.

Optimised schedules and delivery processes to enhance efficiency, reducing waste and easing road congestion, is part of the process, while driver wellbeing initiatives promoting driver health, including mental health support programmes and ergonomic vehicle designs have also been launched.

Remi Martysz, Salvatori’s Transport Director, said: “This FORS Gold accreditation is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire organization.

“It reflects our commitment to not only meeting but exceeding industry standards in safety and sustainability. We believe that by setting such high benchmarks for ourselves, we contribute to a safer and more eco-conscious future for the transportation sector”.

Earlier this year, officers from the Metropolitan Police Commercial Vehicle Unit (undertook FORS training as part of efforts to foster better relations with fleet operators.

Learnings from the FORS Practitioner ‘Managing Abnormal Indivisible Loads’ training module have been incorporated into the unit’s own Toolbox Talks; a two-hour educative presentation to hauliers, which the unit reports as being particularly well received.

Content from FORS has also been beneficial in the Commercial Vehicle Unit’s understanding of operators’ obligations, and it is also looking to integrate more FORS content into its own training material.

As part of this, five Response Sergeants from the unit have committed to complete the full FORS Practitioner programme, a series of ten individual modules covering all aspects of fleet management.

Sergeant Alex Burlison of the Met’s CVU, who has undertaken the 15-module FORS Advanced Practitioner programme, said: “Of course, our responsibility for roadside enforcement is crucial but we’re also becoming increasingly focused on education and engagement with hauliers.

“Transport Managers’ roles are so much more than mere compliance and FORS has really helped us appreciate the many and varied aspects of running a successful fleet operation.

“We want to build better relations with all commercial vehicle operators and our Toolbox Talks not only deliver on a training level, but they also provide a platform for operators to feedback.”

FORS is constantly adding to and improving its courses, including the recently unveiled ‘Introduction to Decarbonisation’, a new module for its Practitioner training programme.

Specifically, participants that complete the new module will be able to explain the importance of decarbonising their fleet and why road fleet is a high priority, as well as examine the regulatory landscape and how decarbonisation relates to the FORS Standard

This course is also designed to help transport firms understand decarbonisation key terms and phrases, explores the three Rs of sustainability – record, report, reduce – and the decarbonisation options available to fleet operators

The arrival of Introduction to Decarbonisation coincides with the recent launch of Version 7 of the FORS Standard and is reflected in requirements which cover professional development and decarbonisation strategy.

Geraint Davies, FORS Concession Director, said: “With the launch of our ‘Introduction to Decarbonisation’ module, we’re continuing to set the standard for excellence in fleet management education.

“The time to decarbonise is now and we’re proud that FORS is leading the way on the transport sector’s road to net zero.”

FORS has also revised and updated its driver training output with the introduction of its new ‘Safe Driving’ course.

The new offering is fully redesigned and consolidates the scheme’s previous Safe Urban Driving and Van Smart courses.

Safe Driving is delivered through the FORS Professional training portfolio and is available to drivers of all vehicle classes, from vans through to 44-tonne GCW articulated vehicles.

A full redesign means participants receive the latest tuition on defensive driving, designed to instil a safety mindset which benefits drivers, vulnerable road users and the wider public.

Course highlights include drivers’ regulatory responsibilities and the importance of safe driving practices on motorways, rural and urban roads.

Importantly, Safe Driving takes a deep dive into key areas that may negatively impact individuals behind the wheel such as driver fitness, health, distraction and impairment.

It also includes a practical on-cycle session and a theory module. Both 3.5-hour modules contribute towards Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), plus mandatory Work-Related Road Risk training as required at FORS Silver.

Davies added: “Both our previous Safe Urban Driving and Van Smart training courses delivered significant benefits for drivers, albeit for different vehicle classes.

“Our new Safe Driving course brings all the various course elements together into one redesigned package, which will provide benefits for everyone.

“Our FORS Professional training portfolio remains the most comprehensive training resource for drivers and managers currently available in the transport sector.”

As it becomes more important to customers and, therefore, hauliers to show to they are high-performing in efficiency and safety, FORS is proving to pay dividends.

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