FORS for thought? Driving change through collaboration

March 25th, 2014 Posted in: Lakesmere


Over the recent months, the tragic news of cyclist fatalities in London has sparked a heated but much-needed debate about the dangers posed by construction vehicles on the roads.  As one would expect from such a terrible situation, demands for immediate action have been heard throughout the press and social media and the country soon looked to Boris Johnson for answers.  Now with the December 2013 launch of the Standard for Construction Logistics, it’s clear that a workable solution can only be found within the construction industry itself but is this enough to elicit real change?

The calls to ban construction traffic during the rush hour and the issuing of fines to ‘unsafe’ vehicles that have made the headlines have also evoked emotive responses from those working in the industry.  What most will agree is that this is not a problem limited to London and a select few companies. The need to embrace health and safety on the roads, to plan off-site transport and logistics in the same way that we do on site work, is something that the entire industry must take responsibility for and must work together to achieve.

Already, some of the UK Contractors Group and clients have put measures into place to help manage construction traffic on the roads, specifically in the City of London and M25 corridor.  As a preferred supplier to Crossrail, Lakesmere is familiar with its Lorry Driving Induction Training initiative. Key client Mace has also imposed compulsory Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) accreditation on all its suppliers as have Vinci and Costain for deliveries to sites within the M25. Similarly, the Standard for construction logisticsManaging Work related road risk (WRRR) has the fundamental backing of clients, contractors and key stake holders. By enforcing the safety requirements of all vehicles working on specific projects to protect vulnerable road users, awareness of this important issue is being communicated along the supply chain but with only a relatively small handful of albeit big name contractors and clients making such demands, is this enough?  And more importantly, is it a practical solution?

It is likely that any company using vans or lorries to make deliveries to sites in and around the Capital will have heard of FORS but the feedback that we received from our own supply chain at our recent Strategic Partners Conference is that more communication is needed about the issues that the new requirements could raise. Already the increasing demands for suppliers to become accredited has led to long waiting lists and although undoubtedly a positive step in the right direction, this alone is unlikely to be the ‘quick fix’ that so many are hoping for. Another issue is that many goods are shipped from overseas using foreign transport companies which will not, and are very unlikely to in the future, have FORS accreditation. This could mean switching goods to another vehicle in the UK and the very real risk of incurring additional cost and possible damage or loss of materials due to double handling.  Change, as always, does not come cheap and as cost in general will be an issue, this will inevitably be passed on to the client.

Road safety is an issue that is and should be taken very seriously and for those clients who are imposing FORS or accreditation to another scheme such as the WRRR standard, the very real consequence of non-compliance by suppliers is that deliveries will eventually be turned away from site. This ultimately affects the whole project team and inevitably the success of the project itself.

For its part, Lakesmere’s order book is increasingly being filled with jobs in the London and M25 corridor, with repeat business from leading clients Crossrail and Network Rail, appointments to work on high-profile jobs such as the Olympic Stadium Redevelopment as well as a number of hi-rise residential contracts for developers including St.George PLC. As the demands of our client base change, so too do our own requirements and we will continue to work closely with our own supply chain to comply with our clients and governmental requirements, ensuring safe working practices both off and on site.

At the moment it impossible to say how effective the voluntary FORS scheme will continue to be and if the WRRR standard will live up to its aim of becoming an integral part of all future construction logistics contracts. What is clear is that the industry is set on challenging the problem that affects the whole supply chain, from the client, main contractors to the specialist sub-contractors, their suppliers and ultimately the haulage companies themselves, and for that to be a truly effective solution it needs to work for everyone at every level.


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