Revamped rules for a fleet safety scheme aim to help operators mitigate the threat of terrorism and address the need for air quality improvements.
The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) unveiled the new standard at its largest ever annual members’ conference attended by more than 450 delegates, last month.
Revised every two years, this fifth version of the standard sets out the requirements operators must meet if they wish to become FORS accredited.
FORS director John Hix explained: “The FORS Standard must respond to emerging best practice and new legislations which affect members and the feedback of members themselves.”
A disturbing rise in the use of commercial vehicles in terrorist-related incidents and new rules to improve air quality in towns and cities have helped shape the new standard.
A van was driven into worshippers gathered near Finsbury Park Mosque in north London in June, 2017, days after terrorists used a van to mow down people on London Bridge before launching a knife rampage that left eight people dead and 48 injured.
A van was also used in last year’s terror attack in Barcelona. Earlier, heavy trucks were used in fatal attacks in the cities of Nice and Berlin.
Hix said: “With the terrorist threat ongoing, it is now more important than ever that we all play our part in tackling the dangers to personal and vehicle safety.”
Changes to FORS requirements also aim to broaden the appeal of the voluntary accreditation programme, and recruit new members from van and last-mile delivery bike fleets.
The latest version, which comes into force from January 14, 2019, is more accessible and relevant to all vehicle types, thanks to changes made to its auditing process.
Graham Holder, head of compliance at FORS, explained that when the programme was launched, it was called the ‘Freight’ Operator Recognition Scheme before becoming ‘Fleet’.
“Fleet incorporates all (vehicle) variants so the way version five (the latest FORS standard) is now delivered is specific to the variant we’re talking about,” he said.
“You’ll find a drop down (menu) for risk assessments that cater for everything from a heavy 44-tonne articulated truck down to a powered two-wheeler scooter that is delivering pizza.”
Historically, the auditing process did not have that flexibility, which meant it was not relevant for all vehicle types. “Version five opens it up,” said Holder.
The current vehicle make-up of members is truck heavy, with around 60% operating trucks, 30% vans and the remainder running coaches and buses. That’s not surprising considering the work-related road safety scheme was borne out of a desire to improve the road safety of trucks in the capital by Transport for London (TfL).
TfL launched FORS in April 2008, but, having grown beyond the confines of London, it was rolled out nationwide in 2015.
The accreditation programme is run by Aecom in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), while the Governance and Standards Advisory Group (GSAG), consisting of industry stakeholders, enforcement bodies and fleets, including Tarmac, DHL and Travis Perkins, decides the requirements set out in the FORS standard.
Today, FORS has more than 5,000 members, operating 130,000-plus vehicles, who can be awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold accreditation.
Key changes – FORS Bronze Audit
To achieve the new counter terrorism requirement, operators must have a policy and supporting procedures in place at FORS Bronze, along with a named ‘counter terrorism champion’.
Members must have also completed the current FORS Professional Security and Counter Terrorism eLearning module within the 24 months prior to audit.
Since its launch in January 2018, the module has been completed by more than 15,700 individuals.
Key changes – FORS Silver and Gold Accreditations
There is an added emphasis on improving environmental operating standards, with a new requirement at FORS Silver for HGV and van drivers to complete the FORS Professional ‘LoCITY – Time to clean up’ eLearning module within the 24 months prior to accreditation.
In line with the progressive nature of the scheme, FORS has also introduced a requirement at Gold for drivers to have completed either the FORS Professional LoCITY Driving training course or a FORS Approved environmental awareness course within the past five years.
FORS Silver also includes a commitment to tackle noise pollution – a criteria formerly only mandated at FORS Gold.
“FORS has grown from a relatively-small London-centric operation, to encompass well in excess of 5,000 members of diverse fleets nationwide,” said Hix.
“With this truly national remit, it is vital that FORS is flexible enough to meet the evolving challenges our members face and to help operators striving for continuous operational excellence and best practice.”