FORS Specifiers continue to add value to the road transport sector

Jon Noble, growth manager at FORS

Since its inception 15 years ago, FORS has been working to educate and encourage best practice across the road transport sector. A key element of this mission has been to support both fleet operators in their use of the FORS Standard, and Specifiers in how FORS can help ensure those working on their contracts are achieving exemplary levels of best practice across safety, efficiency, and environmental protection.


Jon Noble, growth manager at FORS, explains the process, requirements and benefits behind the Specifier programme.


What is a FORS Specifier?


We define a FORS Specifier as any organisation that requires FORS accreditation in their service or supply chain contracts – in the same way ISO (the International Organisation for Standardisation) and health and safety accreditation are specified in contracts.


So, any company that uses third-party fleet operators or has vehicles coming onto its site/s can become a FORS Specifier. There is no charge for this, the organisation just needs to provide evidence of a contractual clause requiring FORS accreditation. To help simplify the process from both sides, we offer ready-made contractual clauses for businesses that need anything from a light-touch requirement to full implementation.


Currently there are more than 80 FORS Specifier organisations across the UK. These include public sector local authorities, highway authorities, hospitals and schools, as well as private sector construction, supermarket and pallet network enterprises.


Interestingly, while we engage regularly with many FORS Specifiers, we believe there are far more organisations that specify FORS that we aren’t aware of currently. We always encourage fleet operators to let us know if they have been required to demonstrate FORS accreditation by a new client.


How do FORS Specifiers provide added value when compared to other schemes?


The most important point to remember is that FORS is not designed to be a one-size-fits-all scheme. Our three progressive levels of accreditation allow a FORS Specifier to choose which level should apply to the companies they want to work with.


We can also help FORS Specifiers keep up to date on which operators are accredited. This information can then be connected to the specifier’s own delivery management systems so an operator’s vehicle and driver can be checked for their level of accreditation.


FORS provides a method of recognition for organisations to ensure they are using fleet operators that run to the highest standards and are following industry best practice. Making the roads safer for everyone is one of FORS’ key aims and any company specifying FORS is helping that goal.


What reasons do Specifiers give for their involvement in FORS?


Generally, social value, road safety and environmental protection. Working with FORS Accredited Operators ensures a FORS Specifier can be confident that the operators they choose to work with have gone over and above the minimum standards required for operating vehicles. Additional safety equipment on vehicles and comprehensive environmental and road safety procedures are all reasons Specifiers continue to request FORS.


Anecdotally, I often hear from Specifiers that in working with FORS they see a reduction in collisions and have confidence in the practices that their contractors adhere to.


What advice would you give to operators when dealing with FORS Specifiers? 


Find out what level of FORS accreditation the Specifier is asking them to achieve and what time scales are allowed to reach it. It is always useful to know what the specifier’s compliance regime is too. For example, if an operator or vehicle doesn’t meet the standards, will they get a warning or be turned away? I would recommend getting in touch with FORS and getting a copy of the latest FORS Standard to see what is involved in reaching the accreditation level needed. The FORS team is always available to help – we have a dedicated helpline for operators available Monday to Friday. 


Finally, it’s important to remember that FORS is progressive and multi-levelled. So, check what the specific need is. Generally speaking, for projects within the construction sector, public sector and Greater London area, we recommend FORS Silver to be consistent with other specifiers. However, we would usually recommend operators start at FORS Bronze as our experience has shown that it is best to encourage a mindset of continuous improvement – no one wants to make contracts too prescriptive and difficult. Ultimately, the FORS Specifier will decide upon which level is necessary to apply in their procurement procedures and may even wish to apply different levels to different projects or sites.