In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Charlotte Harris, Fleet Manager, explains what it takes for a business to achieve FORS Silver status, and shares why this was an important milestone for Bristow & Sutor.
Over to Charlotte …
When I started working for Bristow & Sutor over 3 years ago, the business had a good policy in place to ensure fleet standards were successful and obtained positive outcomes. As time has progressed and the company has begun pitching for larger and larger contracts, it became clear that we needed to prove our commitment to exceeding the industry standard was a genuine reflection of our consistent approach. For many high-profile customers, such as Transport for London (TfL), recognised accreditation is a necessity for a contract to be awarded to businesses like ours.
The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) is a voluntary accreditation scheme which provides an independent benchmark and level of quality within fleet operations. Originally designed for heavy-goods vehicles, FORS accreditation demonstrates which operators are achieving best practice in safety, efficiency, and environmental protection. Bronze-accredited fleets, the minimum standard of operating, training and management, must work actively to maintain that accreditation before they can progress on to Silver status.
In order to achieve Silver accreditation, firms must meet a number of criteria, undergo rigorous analysis, undertake intense training modules and also be compliant with the Work-Related Road Risk (WRRR) standard. After achieving Bronze status last year, Bristow & Sutor made the decision to continue into FORS Silver, proving beyond all doubt that we are a safe, smart and green operation.
Over the course of a week, our driving employees were staggered into groups of 20 and took part in classroom-based learning with a registered FORS trainer. Practical and theoretical training is an instrumental aspect of achieving FORS and we were also required to complete online safety and efficiency training. This ensured standards were understood thoroughly and that our policy and regulations remained clear, our employees would remain safe and our mistakes would remain accountable. As Fleet Manager, I undertook 9 courses covering a variety of topics such as fuel efficiency, optimised management, appropriate record documentation and selecting the right vehicle for purchase.
The detail of the training is impressive and aims to give employees empathy towards other motorists they will come into contact with whilst doing their job. For example, as part of the safety course that all of our drivers were enrolled onto, a practical main-road cycling element is mandatory. Following a designated path, our employees physically took to busy roads as small groups of cyclists, to experience for themselves the pressure of being surrounded by vehicles and how the decisions of other motorists affected them. This first-hand insight instantly promoted a renewed level of respect and understanding that will now carry-over into driving performance in future.
The helpfulness of FORS training in preparing EAs for returning to the road is further compounded by our technology investment which has seen employees gain support from the latest route optimisation technology. These systems promote fuel efficiency and remove the need for manual route planning, reducing our carbon footprint. Our ongoing success with technology and commitment to optimising efficiency levels was recognised with a recent award win, in partnership with Palladium Digital, achieving Silver in the Digital Change & Transformation category at DXA’20, UK Digital Experience Awards.
We were proud to obtain FORS Silver accreditation in April 2020, but due to COVID-19, we are yet to practically see the benefits of this until now. Fortunately, with EAs returning to the road, customers, clients and the general public can be safe in the knowledge that our drivers have been trained to an exceptional standard. By broadening our horizons on subjects such as fuel consumption, road safety and fleet productivity, we expect FORS Silver training will deliver significant reductions in costs and achieve even better sustainability results for our fleet than ever seen before.
Bristow & Sutor continues to support clients and customers whilst remaining committed to its ethos of Cool, Calm and Collected.