The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) is a voluntary accreditation scheme that aims to drive up fleet operator standards by demonstrating an exemplary commitment to best practice in safety, efficiency and environmental protection.
Besides the natural benefits that such practices bring to businesses, the Bronze, Silver and Gold accreditation under FORS is an additional reward that enables operators to show their commitment to customers, while inspiring others to do the same.
Bronze level, for example, confirms that an operator employs good practices and demonstrates dedication to driver and vehicle safety, combined with improving operating practices through effective monitoring of fuel and tyre usage, vehicle maintenance and performance management.
Earlier this year, Northern Ireland-based Moy Park, which supplies fresh poultry products throughout the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe, secured its first FORS Bronze accreditation at its Anwick depot in Lincolnshire. It now aims to achieve the same across its other ten UK operating sites by the end of 2023.
According to Sarah O’Neill, Moy Park Fleet Maintenance and Compliance Lead, the business is already preparing for its FORS Silver audit at Anwick, where it operates a fleet of 66 trucks and 130 trailers.
She said: “We already demonstrate a high level of compliance across our fleets when it comes to crucial elements such as safety, training, fleet maintenance and operator license requirements, but gaining FORS accreditation enables us to take things to the next level.
“Aligning ourselves with FORS will help foster a culture of continuous improvement within our fleet teams, solidifying our commitment to best practice through robust company procedures.
“As a business that aims to lead by example, we see FORS as an effective vehicle to achieve our own operational goals, but also to encourage higher standards from our supply chains.”
The FORS Bronze audit process involves operators providing evidence of systems, procedures and documentation that demonstrate they can meet the required standard of entry into the accreditation.
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.
David Kay, Fleet Health & Safety and Driver Training Lead at Moy Park, believes FORS accreditation helps to bolster the firm’s training offering.
“Training is an integral part of Moy Park’s business, so the opportunity for drivers to progress through additional training as part of FORS’ training package is invaluable,” he said. “We have already seen a positive response from our drivers at Anwick; it makes them feel valued and invested in as professionals.
“We strive to be the employer of choice in our sector, and FORS shows that we are backing it up with action.”
Meanwhile, FORS Silver accreditation is designed for operators who maintain Bronze accreditation and who are committed to becoming safer and more efficient, while reducing their environmental impact.
At this level, operators will have developed driver licencing verification systems, their vehicles over 3.5 tonnes will be equipped with left turn audible warning systems and trucks will also be fitted with blind spot minimisation devices.
BOC, the industrial gases business, has Bronze level accreditation across its entire fleet of 541 vehicles, as well as having a selection of sites with Silver accreditation at strategic locations.
Clare Yearsley, Business Improvement Manager for Service & Training at BOC, said that since gaining FORS accreditation in 2017, the firm’s commitment to the scheme has enabled it to deliver safer, more sustainable, and efficient logistics operations to its customers.
She added: “We serve a variety of markets, and in all of them it is imperative we demonstrate a commitment to best practice operations.
“Our customers need to know that we will deliver on our safety and legislative obligations and that we are working hard to reduce our environmental impact. Put simply, FORS gives us and our customers peace of mind, so it is an absolute business need.”
Accreditation from FORS is increasingly being stipulated in contracts during tender and re-tender processes across the country and BOC’s commitment to FORS strongly supports its sales teams in their interactions with new and prospective customers.
“FORS accreditation has helped to influence and inform the company’s internal standards, policies and procedures,” Yearsley said.
“Ultimately, aligning our business with the standards and requirements of FORS enables our teams to identify areas for improvement and shape operational change.”
At the start of 2023, and for the twelfth consecutive year, O’Donovan Waste earned its FORS Gold status – an accreditation for exceptional operators that exceed levels of compliance in safety, efficiency and environmental protection, while maintaining Bronze and Silver accreditations.
The business has continued to invest heavily in its operations and working practices to surpass the audit criteria every year.
In 2022, O’Donovan went even further by switching its entire fleet to using solely HVO Biofuel, massively reducing its environmental impacts.
Operators with Gold status are also expected to actively promote the FORS Standard.
Jacqueline O’Donovan, Managing Director said: “We are committed to being a FORS Gold accredited business and achieving this certification for twelve consecutive years clearly shows our dedication to ensuring operational excellence in our working practices across the board.”
In addition, FORS has a concessions department which offers benefits to members.
An example of this came earlier this year when FORS announced it had negotiated with an insurance partner to provide accredited operators with access to a new, bespoke insurance product to help them save time and money.
FORS also holds an annual conference, which hundreds of accredited hauliers attend, typically featuring speakers such as senior DVSA officials, Traffic Commissioners and FORS Gold operators, talking about key industry topics.
All in all, FORS is an effective way for any operator to demonstrate to clients that they are a high-performing business that seeks to instil industry-leading best practice.