I’m David Pepper; the Transport Operations Manager for Explore Transport Limited – At Explore we continue to utilise FORS guidance & best practice to enhance our operating standards, specifically regarding Vulnerable Road Users and the impact we have on the environment. Our vehicle fleet has now increased to around 140 trucks operating from key locations nationally, with an extensive trailer fleet which comprises of regular flat beds, step-frames, low-loaders, in-loaders, tippers, concrete mixers, curtain siders and specialist heavy haulage combinations.
Our primary operational movements typically remain construction industry orientated and includes Pre-Cast Concrete / Plant (Lighting Towers trough to Crawler Cranes and Piling Rigs) / Modular Buildings / Tower Cranes / Formwork / Aggregates / Pre-Mixed Concrete all with the ability to be undertaken 24/7 across the United Kingdom, however will are keen to understand customer needs beyond the construction industry with the view to offering safe, efficient and cost-effective solutions.
Working closely with Laing O’Rourke construction projects in / around London has meant that we were always well aware of the FORS standards and the importance placed on not only adhering to but actively embracing and exceeding them whether through engaging with our workforce or fitting new technology to help manage and mitigate road risk.
Our FORS journey to date – We passed our initial Bronze assessment first time (Oct ’15), which was a straightforward process aided by the fact that the majority of our systems already met the criteria of the accreditation. Becoming part of the FORS scheme has encouraged us to keep on improving our systems, policies and the focus we have on VRU’s. We consequently went for Silver accreditation, which we achieved in Dec ‘15 and retained the following year along with achieving Gold accreditation (Dec ’16). Our three year Bronze renewal earlier this year (2018) proved challenging with the extensive revisions to the standard and required us to address and refine many processes to ensure we remain fully compliant and able to harness FORS good practices & recommendations. Key to this was producing an amended Driver Handbook publication.
‘The FORS management toolbox has not only helped us to enhance our operating standards but also those of the partners we use’, explains David.
FORS guidelines ensure every vehicle on the Explore Transport fleet comes fitted with a range of key features designed to improve the safety of both the driver and notably vulnerable road users; such equipment includes ‘live’ 360 degree camera footage which can also be viewed remotely by office based staff / Near side proximity sensors with audible and visual alerts / Reversing audible alert with manual disengagement when operating within noise restricted areas / Appropriate near side under-run protection and stickering. All Explore Transport drivers undertake ‘on cycle’ Safe Urban Driving training and any other site / project specific inductions meaning they are fully aware of the potential dangers VRU’s are exposed to.
‘Such driver training harnessed with the safety equipment installed on our vehicles has seen a decrease in incidents per KM – From one incident every 143,000 KM’s to one every 283,000 KM’s in the last year’, advises David.
|Incident Frequency – 1 per KMs||
Euro 6 LGV’s On Fleet
Sep’14-Aug’15 (Base Year)
- Driver health and fitness review – At Explore Transport all successful LGV driver candidates have a pre-placement health questionnaire sent out with their employment offer pack. This questionnaire is completed by the individual and sent back to Optima (Explore Transport’s health care provider). We then organise an appointment with Optima for the individual to complete a ‘Safety Critical Medical’ and where necessary a ‘Health Surveillance Medical’. For ‘Safety Critical Medicals’, recall is every 2 years for over 50’s, every 3 years for under 50’s. For ‘Health Surveillance Medicals’, recall then reverts to DVLA standards thereafter – Every five years up to the age of 65 and annually over the age of 65. Full Occupational Health support is available to offer guidance & support where deemed necessary.
- Strategy for recruiting drivers – To help encourage LGV driver recruitment Explore Transport attend key industry & recruitment events to help engage with prospective candidates and to explain the focus we put on Health & Safety and fundamentally how we intend to continually raise these standards, particularly with regard to construction logistics. We are actively looking at undertaking driver assessment workshops with our Driver Training Team – An opportunity for less experienced drivers and potential recruits to hone their operating skills and to better prepare them for construction site scenarios.
- Driver Retention – As a business we absolutely recognise the importance of investment in and retention of our driver team and have undertaken an operational re-structure to help facilitate improved communications and operating standards as we continue to engage our highly skilled work-force.
- Noise assessment – Explore Transport’s current primary operational activities relate to construction logistics, as such collection / delivery points tend to be in areas governed by noise pollution timeframes, typically no work before 07:00 and after 20:00 Mon to Fri & no work before 09:00 and after 20:00 at weekends. All Explore Transport vehicles are fitted with reversing beepers that can be de-activated via a dashboard mounted switch where the restrictions apply. Drivers are also encouraged to minimise engine idling again to mitigate levels of disturbance. Regular operational assessments are undertaken with the appropriate PPE / safety equipment issued where required.
- Modal shift and alternative vehicles – Given the various types / mix of products that Explore Transport currently moves, there is limited opportunity to utilise alternative methods of transportation – Notably due to loads not being standardised either by dimensions, weight or projections. Likewise, we are significantly restricted by the varied delivery schedules, lead-times & site constraints we are required to work towards – Not conducive with the restraints a rail freight timetable would enforce for example. However, given the location of our London operating centre and our endeavor to reduce our carbon foot-print further, we continue to understand whether the Dagenham rail head could be utilised effectively. Further to introducing increased visibility N/S doors to a number of LGV’s regularly operating in / around London, Explore Transport continue to work closely with Dennis Eagle in the development of our 6×2 urban tractor unit which incorporates a low entry cab and greatly increased driver visibility (picture above), thus reducing operator blind-spots and offers confidence to fellow road users, notably VRU’s – The truck was initially unveiled at last year’s Freight In The City Expo (2017). This truck is based at our London operating centre and performs the final delivery leg into city centre construction sites, thus minimising the requirement for regular tractor units to travel into areas densely populated by VRU’s – Ultimately helping to mitigate the potential for negative incidents. Explore Transport’s aim environmentally is also to run a modern fleet of LGV’s with minimal environmental impact thus we are continuing to replace any Euro 5 engine vehicles with Euro 6 variants – The anticipation being that in 2019 all trucks will be Euro 6 compliant.
This year (2018) our business has continued to expand rapidly, with increased capabilities offered by all our key operating divisions – Notably, our Urban Tractor Unit has gone into full operational service and has been well received by drivers, customers and the wider industry alike in terms of the enhanced VRU visibility it offers. Operating partnerships beyond Laing O’Rourke associated businesses now include:- Weldex Cranes / Balfour Beatty / Kalmar / Q Crane & Plant Hire / Cemex / Tarmac / Superior Concrete / Forterra / Speedy / Garic.
Being a FORS Gold accredited operator not only provides a source of great pride but also reassurance that the high standards we strive for allied with our approach to continuous improvement in managing occupational road risk is recognised and extremely worthwhile. As more and more companies achieve this standard, FORS inspires Explore Transport to continue the journey of sustaining this performance and building upon our continuous improvement & innovative approach to road safety.
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