How safe is your supply chain?

How safe is your supply chain?

Throughout my career journey in the transport industry, from being a fleet manager to leading the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS), I have witnessed significant strides in managing work-related road risk and improving safety standards across the sector.

This change has largely been driven by technology, regulation and the collective effort of industry professionals. The fact remains, however, that many businesses – particularly those outside the construction and heavy transport sectors – do not take road risks as seriously as they do other Health and Safety matters. This can result in under-preparation against potential disruptions and hazards, affecting overall business resilience and safety. As the UK’s urban environments grow in complexity, the consequences of this become more pronounced.

What exactly is work-related road risk? Put simply, it refers to the risks that arise when roads are used for work-related purposes, not just by those within the transport sector, but by any business that relies on road transportation for its operations. For logistics companies that move goods from one place to another, for instance, their high frequency road use increases the likelihood of collisions and can lead to driver fatigue. For construction firms transporting heavy machinery and hazardous materials, there is the obvious risk of incidents due to improperly secured equipment or collisions when vehicles enter and exit high traffic construction sites.

Let me reiterate, though, that work-related road risk is not unique to transport and construction companies. Consider the case of a retail business with a delivery service. Delivery vehicles in urban areas face the risks associated with navigating congested streets, while drivers may also be at threat of assault or theft in areas with high crime rates. Or, how about a manufacturing company, for which any incident involving commercial vehicles can lead to supply chain delays, affecting production schedules and potentially leading to financial losses.

The list goes on, and most types of companies face unique challenges related to safety on the roads. It is, therefore, essential for companies at all levels of the supply chain – whether they directly handle transport or not – to recognise and manage the risks associated with road usage. This is an issue with people and their safety at its heart – but there are secondary considerations, too. If a company fails to manage risk in its supply chain, its brand reputation is at stake – coupled with the hefty fines associated with such contraventions.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, the safety landscape in the UK transport sector is constantly evolving, which adds to the challenge. As cities like Glasgow, Cardiff and Leeds introduce stricter emissions regulations and London implements Direct Vision Standards (DVS), understanding and compliance become more difficult but no less vital. These regulations aim to enhance public health and road safety, shaping how fleets operate within urban landscapes.

Then, there’s the technological innovations, such as telematics and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), that are redefining fleet operations. These technologies help reduce incidents and improve efficiency, but they require ongoing investment in training and infrastructure to be fully effective.

Amidst these changes, of course, the human element remains critical. Prioritising drivers’ wellbeing and professional development is essential to maintaining high safety standards. Stress, fatigue and health issues can significantly impair driving performance, which is why it is vital to invest in initiatives that prioritise these aspects.

So, getting on the front foot with work-related road risk is a no small task, but there is support out there. At FORS, we provide a framework to help operators not only meet compliance demands but exceed them, ensuring safer roads for everyone. Our comprehensive accreditation scheme offers guidance, resources, and training to navigate these challenges effectively. Companies working with our operators tell us that FORS brings them peace of mind; they know that a FORS operator goes above and beyond the baseline to be safer, smarter, and greener – and that is to the benefit of their own businesses.

As we look forward to a safer future, our collective efforts in understanding and mitigating work-related road risk are crucial. How does your organisation manage and reduce this risk? What is important to you when choosing fleet operators? Let’s discuss and share best practice in the comments.