Wolseley UK is a national specialist merchant with over 550 branches. As a leading plumbing, heating and cooling trade specialist, we aim to be the first choice for our customers. Nathan da Rocha-Thomas, Transport Operations Manager, explains the positive impact its 100 strong fleet have seen through its FORS accreditation. Particularly highlighting improvements in its road safety record, decreased fuel use and reduced CO2, NOx and particulate matter emissions.
We joined FORS back in April 2013 to fulfil contractual obligations, however quickly realised it showcased and emphasised our focus and commitment to exceeding basic legal standards. FORS supports our quest to be at the forefront of best practice in safety for colleagues, supplier’s, vulnerable road users and environmental matters.
Whilst the initial Bronze audit seemed daunting, we believed we were well placed to achieve the Bronze standard and have successfully maintained our accreditation each successive year. The annual FORS Bronze audit continues to give us confidence in our internal policies and helps to demonstrate how robust our company procedures are.
Once we achieved Bronze, we decided we should progress to Silver for several reasons:
- Being FORS Silver demonstrates to our customers that we hold safety in the highest regard. This gives customers additional confidence in our operational standards, as we deliver to many different types of location, ranging from hospitals to army bases and building sites to domestic/residential addresses.
- FORS E-learning modules and the Silver SUD course provide immersive tools to continually improve our drivers and managers knowledge and performance.
- We also utilise the FORS audits in tandem with our internal audits, to drive improved practise, using synergies between them to drive compliance.
As ever though, we want to continually improve our standards, showcasing that we are a leading operator, hence our drive for FORS Gold.
Making good use of the benefits FORS offers, in particular the Practitioner workshops, we now have 15 FORS Practitioners across the UK. These range from Branch Managers, who are at the forefront of the customer operation, to our Transport Operations team.
The Practitioners have seen benefits through the wide scope of topics covered in the workshops, from an increased awareness of work-related road risk, better environmental impact awareness to improved collision investigation skills.
Even though all drivers/managers complete the compulsory FORS E-learning modules, we have many colleagues who have gone on to complete more modules than needed, as they wish to refresh knowledge and upskill themselves. The Pedestrian Safe module is particularly good, interactive and immersive.
We have recently partnered with Fleetcheck, whom we know work closely with FORS. We are in the process of fully integrating the system into our business and are confident that we will see financial savings achieved through time efficiencies when it’s fully up and running.
Year on year statistics
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We take our duty as a large transport operator very seriously and to that end have several checks in place to ensure we minimise our risk of incidents related to underlying health problems or diagnosis. Some examples of how, are our Toolbox talks covering health and wellbeing, 6 monthly eyesight checks, but also having clear policies in place for drivers, detailing actions to take in the event they feel unwell. Further to the above, we have daily open honest communication and debriefs with our drivers, where they/we have an opportunity to discuss any current concerns or changes in health. This has been especially effective during the current pandemic, where having regular communication has been key in supporting our drivers with their mental, as well as their physical health.
Wolseley have previously worked in partnership with various educational institutions, attending careers fairs to offer insight into our work as a major distribution company. We also support work placements, helping those who could benefit experiencing an insight into a live environment.
We have developed an internal talent programme called “Warehouse to Wheels”. Within which we encourage progression and financially support members of our branch teams to obtain their Vocational Driving Licences. We have seen success with this programme and have seen an increase in colleague retention, in part due to colleagues feeling valued through the investment of time and money.
To minimise our noise impact during operations, we have developed our own Noise Code of Practice to cover all vehicle related operations from loading/unloading to parking and delivering. This has been rolled out to every driver at Silver level and is also briefed to all transport related staff in the branch. Where viable we are also moving to electric forklift trucks, which shows a positive reduction to the noise created during our loading/unloading operations.
Alternatively fuelled/powered vehicles and transport modes are under regular review, to ensure we are up to date with new market developments. We partner with couriers where possible, to reduce our carbon footprint and some of these utilise alternatively fuelled/powered vehicles, thus benefit the environment.
Looking to the future there is lots happening in Wolseley UK, the below represents some of the exciting initiatives we are undertaking.
We are particularly focussed at present on Mental Health. As a business we recognise the importance of both mental and physical health. We have recently partnered with St Johns Ambulance, who have delivered Mental Health First Aid Training for us. Our newly trained Mental Health First Aiders are proactively seeking to identify and support any colleague who may need it. With this increased focus on mental health, we will be keeping awareness high on the agenda, by delivering regular communication across various platforms.
We have an ambitious Fleet Replacement programme, which focuses on removing all non-Euro VI vehicles, paying particular attention to older HGV’s, due to the higher emissions they emit.
We are currently in talks with some major manufacturers to arrange trials of Electric LGV’s in several town centres. We are excited to see how these perform for us and are hopeful that they may support our aims to minimise our carbon footprint.
We positively promote FORS through various activities.
Pre Covid-19 we frequently gave meeting room space to FORS to hold Practitioner Workshops at our Head Office. Currently we regularly post on LinkedIn, showcasing our branches that achieve FORS Silver.
For Wolseley UK Building Services achieving FORS Gold will really showcase to our customers and supply chain partners our ongoing commitment to Health and Safety, our drive for continuous improvement and that we are always willing to learn and take on best practise to improve.
In summary we feel there are many tangible benefits to our drivers, managers, and field transport team with being FORS Gold accredited and look forward to more branches achieving the Gold standard in the near future.