The pandemic has prompted a sea-change in business operations across the country, with FORS members being no exception. The FORS team was quick to adapt our services, delivering much of our training content online, for example, and with the priority to support our members as they navigate the numerous unforeseen challenges the global pandemic continues to present.
Along with temporarily suspending FORS Bronze audits, during the Spring months, Bronze, Silver or Gold downgrades were also halted where accreditation dates were exceeded, allowing members to maintain their existing FORS membership status throughout.
It wasn’t until 15 June that bookings for Bronze site audits were opened up again, with site audits being undertaken against strict social distancing conditions.
In a move which we think will be particularly beneficial for members located on this side of the Irish Sea, FORS Professional manager training sessions were developed into online webinars in early April.
FORS Professional Practitioner workshops, FORS Professional Car and Van Fleet Management Essentials, FORS Professional HGV and PCV Fleet Management Essentials, and FORS Professional Collision Management all moved from classroom-based to interactive webinars.
The original classroom-based manager sessions were amended to suit an online format and to encourage participants to interact, and ensure learning is fully absorbed. What is more, we are currently developing a secure ‘virtual classroom’ platform which will enable delegates and trainers to see each other and engage in a more classroom-like environment, with an embedded assessment made up of multiple choice questions to ensure the learning objectives have been met.
There are also secondary benefits to online training; it is easier for our members to fit training sessions into already busy work timetables and is ultimately better for the environment.
These online courses are proving extremely successful, with more than 1,500 places filled on FORS Professional webinars since they began on 2 April. We plan to continue offering FORS Professional manager courses online until at least December 2021. It could be some time before government restrictions are fully lifted, and in the meantime, it is of utmost importance that fleet management teams are still able to access vital operational training, to continue their work with FORS to raise operational standards of safety and efficiency.
Although UK industry is returning to work, much of the workforce remains working from home. The government continues to encourage these home-workers to exercise and this naturally means a potential increase in pedestrian and cycling activity – evidence, in fact, reveals a boom in bicycle sales brought about by the coronavirus outbreak. With safety at the very core of FORS, we sought to encourage our driving workforce to ensure their road safety training remains very much front of mind.
We urge drivers to refresh their FORS Pedestrian Safe training, to understand the specific dangers faced by pedestrians and learn how to protect them. Since it began in January 2020, this eLearning module has been completed by over 12,000 individuals as part of the suite of FORS Professional safety eLearning modules.
The FORS Standard
Unfortunately, the new FORS Standard version 6, which was due to be published in October 2020 is now postponed. However, one change has been implemented. From 1st July 2020, training providers and FORS members can now submit ‘Immersive Interactive Training’ to become approved as part of FORS Silver requirements, and to help members meet the HGV and van driver Work Related Road Risk (WRRR) requirement.
Immersive interactive training uses drama-based multi-media, virtual reality or other mixed reality training to help attendees understand the road from different perspectives. FORS members and training providers can now go to fors-online.org.uk (FORS Professional and FORS Approved Training) to view full details and to have an immersive interactive training course FORS Approved.
Without a doubt these are very tough times for our industry. Operators are looking to ensure their businesses are as lean and efficient as possible. FORS can help, with a route to embedded best practice that leads to industry-leading safety standards, and tangible savings.