HAULAGE INDUSTRY URGED TO TAKE ACTION AFTER RISE IN MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AMONGST DRIVERS

With a recent survey revealing that half of logistics companies have seen a rise in mental health issues since Brexit, haulage industry leaders and mental health experts provide tips for supporting the mental wellbeing of drivers.

A recent study by Haulage Exchange, highlighted that 50% of logistics companies surveyed have seen an increase in employee stress, anxiety and other mental health issues due to the indirect impacts of Brexit.

Research from mental health charity Mind showed that 30% of self-reported work-related illness in the transport and logistics industry is due to stress, depression and anxiety. Other causes of strain on drivers’ mental health include shift working patterns, social isolation and the upcoming risk of seasonal affective disorder during cold, dark mornings and evenings. For female drivers, being in a male-dominated industry can also cause problems.

The government has introduced measures to ease the pressure on existing drivers, making more HGV driving tests available to get more drivers on the road. Pay has also increased dramatically, with UK wages for LGV drivers rising by 21% to £36,800 in just under a year, according to recruiter Adzuna.

However, it’s vital that drivers already working also receive the required mental health support from employers, colleagues and the wider industry, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

This, along with factors like Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, has undoubtedly lead to a serious shortage in the number of lorry drivers currently working in the UK.

A separate Road Haulage Association (RHA) survey of its members, has found that there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK. That number includes thousands of drivers from European Union (EU) member states who were previously living and working in the UK.

In July, the government attempted to address the issue by temporarily extending drivers’ working hours, but were met with sufficient backlash, many industry professionals claiming that the government is merely “sticking a plaster” over the issue of driver shortages.

The National Officer for Road Transport at Unite the Union, Adrian Jones, claimed the announcement would have no effect on resolving the driver shortage problem. He added, “Unite will be advising its members to not place themselves in danger and that if they are too tired to drive safely, they have a legal right to refuse to do so”.

What can haulage companies do to support the mental health of their drivers?

It’s not always easy to identify the signs of mental health issues, but haulage companies must be mindful that people often hide these problems beneath the surface. With the right support, however, mental health issues can be managed and even prevented.

Luke Davies, Head of Sales at Transport Exchange Group, said: “If the right help isn’t available for drivers, some elements of the job can become stressful. So it’s vital that drivers feel like they can open up about any issues, rather than keeping things bottled up.

“Companies can set up a confidential hotline, introduce mental health days or provide free counselling. They can also address the link between good physical health and positive mental health, by promoting exercise and healthy diets.

“With the national shortage of drivers we’ve currently got, it’s more important than ever to retain drivers. Safeguarding their mental health is one way to make them feel valued and improve their working environment.”

For insight into how haulage drivers can maintain positive mental wellbeing, return loads platform Haulage Exchange has spoken to Claire Lyons, Qualified Mental Health Professional and Hansa Pankhania, counsellor and member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Top tips for maintaining positive mental health as a haulage driver

Find ways to stay active

Making time to exercise can often be a struggle, particularly with long hours spent on the road. For haulage drivers, who spend their working hours sitting down in a small space, keeping active is absolutely vital.

Lyons says: “Stress releases chemicals into your body, and one effective way to get rid of them is via exercise. You could try progressive muscle relaxation when in the cab, but not while driving. Or, add a physical activity (such as boxing, football or walking) to your weekly schedule.”

Pankhania says: “Find places to park where you can go for a brisk walk or run, or engage in stretching exercises. Also, connecting with nature is invigorating and healing, so even better if you can plan your breaks in scenic places.”

Laugh!

Life on the road can get a bit lonely at times, especially if drivers are spending nights away from home, so they should set time aside for whatever brightens their day up.

Lyons says: “One brilliant stress release is to laugh. Add a few downloads of your favourite comedian, get an audiobook, meet up with that friend who always makes you laugh. Watch a comedy show, add a joke book to the cab…”

Get enough sleep

There’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep. Wake up before your body has fully recharged and minor, everyday annoyances can turn into bigger issues. Of course, driving jobs require great focus, so they are much more enjoyable – and safer – when you’re not tired.

Lyons says: “One of the quickest ways to identify stress is a change in sleep patterns. This is also likely if you are working longer hours. Getting high-quality sleep, so that you are rested and alert, is essential for you to remain safe while driving. What works for one person may not work for another, so investigate ideas or sleep aids.”

Keep your lorry space clean

Just as some office employees feel more organised and ready to work when their desks are tidy, many drivers feel better when their working space is clean and pleasant. After all, drivers spend a lot of time in their cabs, so they don’t want to be surrounded by lots of mess.

Pankhania says: “Keep your vehicle clutter-free and fresh. You can also create a calm environment by adding images that you find soothing such as trees, oceans or wildlife.”

Share your feelings

Letting things build up and get you down never helped anyone. Talking about what’s on our minds allows us to process issues and move on. With drivers spending hours alone each day, it’s especially important that they communicate and don’t let any negative thoughts fester.

Pankhania says: “Open up about any issues that are bothering you instead of struggling to make sense of these yourself. Talking is cathartic and will highlight options for moving forward with your problems.”

Lyons says: “When we share thoughts and feelings, concerns or frustrations, with others the stress goes down. Getting things off your chest, even if it doesn’t change them, will help. If you feel you need more specific or professional help, don’t be afraid to reach out.”

To access the full Haulage Exchange findings, click here.

FREIGHT ASSOCIATION WELCOMES EXTENSION OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR APPRENTICE RECRUITMENT

The British International Freight Association (BIFA), the trade association that represents UK freight forwarding and logistics companies, says that it welcomes the news that the government is extending the period of time that companies can access cash incentives for hiring new apprentices.

The cash incentives were first introduced in August 2020 and offered businesses £2,000 to take on apprentices aged 16 to 24, while those that employ new apprentices aged 25 and over were to be paid £1,500. They were increased to £3,000 for all apprentices in February, but that scheme ended in September, but the government has prolonged the scheme by four months until the end of January.

Carl Hobbis, BIFA executive director, who has management responsibility for BIFA’s training and development services, says: “The extension in funding support is a further reason for our members to consider the apprenticeship pathway as a means of adding fresh talent to the industry.”

Having been actively involved in the creation of an International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship, BIFA has committed to promote its availability since it was introduced in 2018.

BIFA director general, Robert Keen says: “Whilst our members, quite rightly, remain focused on significant business continuity issues, we welcome the extension of the funding.

“As one of the largest providers of freight forwarding and Customs-related training courses, we are ready to help any of our members that are seeking to take advantage of the additional funding being made available to recruit apprentices.

“There is also a dedicated area of the BIFA website – https://apprentices.bifa.org/ – that can help both employers and potential recruits to better understand apprenticeship opportunities in the freight forwarding industry.”

Could income protection and illness cover help solve the driver shortage?

Recent research by Talent in Logistics has found that 88% of LGV drivers in the UK would be attracted to a role that offers income protection insurance, with 83% stating that critical illness cover would also be an attractive benefit.

Carried out in collaboration with iintegra-T and the RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium, 130 current HGV drivers from the UK were surveyed in July 2021 to find out what benefits and incentives would encourage them to stay in their career.

“We have seen recently some employers offering big cash incentives to try and attract drivers to roles, but rarely are drivers asked if this is actually what appeals to them,” says Ruth Edwards, Operations Director for Talent in Logistics.  “This research set out to find ways that our industry can attract and retain existing drivers in the talent pool, and it all starts with listening to drivers.”

As well as being interested in income protection insurance and critical illness cover, the survey also found that 76% of drivers would be attracted to extra holiday for years of service. Plus, 73% would welcome higher pension contributions from their employer, indicating that drivers are seeking long term benefits, rather than immediate pay offs.

Warren Robins, Director of iintegra-T comments: “Income protection insurance is one of the most desired benefits for drivers and, providing it, is also a highly cost-effective way for employers to differentiate their offering. Not only with the financial security of sick pay that runs through to retirement age, but also increased recognition of the importance of the role that comes from offering such a prestigious benefit, particularly when combined with discounts and rewards schemes.”

In addition, almost 65% would be drawn to a role that offered flexitime.  However, other flexible working options such as job sharing, staggered hours, and annualised hours were among the least attractive benefits.  The feedback from many of the drivers surveyed also indicated that high expectations on overtime beyond contracted hours feels unfair compared to other industries.

Other popular incentives and benefits highlighted in the survey were private healthcare (65%) and dental care (60%). Conversely, drivers are largely not interested in health and wellness programmes – just 15.5% said this would attract them a lot to a role.  Just 10% of drivers would be keen on a role that provides a gym membership.

“Many of the benefits that drivers are keen on are perhaps not what employers would expect,” says Ruth. “For instance, we also identified a key theme from our open-ended survey questions that many drivers would be incentivised by their management having more understanding and empathy.”

“Though not all transport managers and traffic planners will have worked as a driver to gain first-hand experience, perhaps they spend a day on the road with drivers to learn more about their everyday experiences and show drivers that they are being heard,” she continues.

Laura Nelson, Managing Director for the RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium adds: “One of the most used words by drivers in this survey was ‘respect’. Therefore, rather than tangible or financial incentives, our industry should be looking at ways to ensure drivers are treated with more respect, by their companies, the general public, and other road users.  This will be key for retaining this valuable talent as we tackle a skills shortage.”

Detailed results of the driver engagement survey are revealed in a new white paper published by Talent in Logistics, titled ‘The Drivers for Drivers’.  This also offers more advice and recommendations on how to support drivers and encourage greater loyalty.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

For more information, call the team on 01952 520216 or email info@talentinlogistics.co.uk

PALL-EX APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Pall-Ex has appointed Karolina Thompson as its new Director of International Development to drive the global expansion of the brand.

Karolina, who has been part of the Pall-Ex International team for over 12 years, has been promoted to the role and the Pall-Ex Board, as the business continues to add Master Licensees across the globe.

Working closely with Pall-Ex Group’s Managing Director – International Business Units, Mark Steel, she will oversee the development of relationships and opportunities in territories all over the world, including Australia and the United States.

The International unit of Pall-Ex has seen a major restructure in the last two years, with a new approach being taken in Master Licensee recruitment.

Having started in her new role on 1st August 2021, Karolina expressed her optimism and excitement when looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me, I am grateful to Mark and the other members of the Senior Management team for having faith in my abilities.

“I have been working with our International colleagues across Europe for over 12 years now and my experience and knowledge means that I am well prepared to take on this challenge.

“The next few years will be really exciting as there are numerous projects on the way which will ensure Pall-Ex is the leading name in palletised freight around the world, which I can’t wait to be part of.”

Karolina’s appointment is another example of Pall-Ex promoting from within and investing in the talent it has within the business.

Mark Steel leads the International arm of Pall-Ex and since his time as Managing Director – International Business Units, he has appreciated the value of Karolina’s experience and dedication.

Speaking about her promotion, he comments: “When the need for this position arose, Karolina was the perfect candidate. After working with Karolina for over a year, I have been extremely impressed with her knowledge and professionalism.

“She has an unparalleled level of understanding with the current Master Licence holders and knows what it takes to recruit quality companies to represent the Pall-Ex brand in various territories.

“I have no doubt that her commitment and skill will ensure Pall-Ex’s International ambitions are met and exceeded in the coming years.”

The team is now working flat out to broker deals with potential Master Licence Holders throughout Europe and beyond, working with quality businesses to bring the Pall-Ex model and brand to their respective territories.

Anyone wishing to discuss such opportunities to achieve excellence together, should visit www.pallex.com.

TALENT IN LOGISTICS POSTPONES ITS 2021 AWARDS EVENT

Talent in Logistics announces the decision to cancel the 5th edition of the annual Talent in Logistics Awards until 2022.

The Talent in Logistics Awards programme recognises the talented people that work within the sector, keeping the cogs turning. That includes individuals, such as forklift operators and HGV drivers, and the teams of people behind the scenes who are responsible for training, health and safety, and more. It also focusses on initiatives that display best practice when it comes to sector recruitment, employee engagement, and people development.

Ruth Edwards, Operations Director at Talent in Logistics comments: “Cancelling this year’s awards was a very difficult decision to make, and we are very disappointed as we were so eager to welcome the industry for another brilliant event. However, we are certain this is the most responsible course of action at this time.

“For us, the magic of our industry is in the people. Over the past year, they have been crucial, and deserve even greater praise and recognition than ever for their efforts. So, to keep everyone safe, and give us the best opportunity to celebrate these efforts we feel it is responsible to postpone. We make a promise to the sector that when we come back in 2022, the event will be bigger and better than ever before.”

Talent in Logistics will release full details for the 2022 event in due course.

For further information on entering the awards or sponsoring an award category in 2022, visit www.talentinlogistics.co.uk, call 01952 520216 or email info@talentinlogistics.co.uk.

PD PORTS COMMENDED WITH TOP ‘GOLD’ AWARD FOR ONGOING COMMITMENT TO HEALTH AND SAFETY

PD Ports is celebrating after achieving Gold status at the internationally-recognised RoSPA Awards for its ongoing commitment to demonstrating the highest health and safety standards across its operations.

The port operator, which is headquartered in the Tees Valley, owns and operates 12 key ports and logistics centres nationwide including Teesport, the fifth largest port in the UK, and Groveport, the UK’s hub for steel imports.

Awarded Gold status for the second time by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for continuously driving its safety first culture and ensuring the safety of its people, its operations and anyone who comes into contact with the business, PD Ports’ HR Director, Russ McCallion, said the status is testament to the resilience of both PD Ports and its people following the most challenging of years.

‘It is no secret that Safety is our number one core value, instilled in to each person and operation across the whole of PD Ports,” said Russ.

“Following a year that presented us with many personal and professional challenges as a result of the COVID crisis, our people, as recognised key workers, have remained vigilant and resilient, allowing health and safety to inform every decision in order to ensure that everyone leaves work in the same condition in which they arrived.

“As we were all forced to come to terms with the ‘new normal’ and alternate ways of working, our people adapted very quickly to increased safeguarding measures meaning that we were able to minimise any potential risk of COVID19 in the workplace. We’ve also placed a renewed focus on mental health over the past 12 months in order to properly protect and safeguard all aspects of our people and their wellbeing.

“This award is testament to the efforts of all our people in caring for each other, respecting the values of our business and providing an unfaltering service throughout 2020.”

Receiving over 2,000 entrants each year the RoSPA Awards are regarded as the highest possible accolade in the health and safety industry across the globe with winners regarded as world-leaders in health and safety practices.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s achievements director, said, “The RoSPA Awards scheme is the longest-running of its kind in the UK, but it receives entries from organisations across the globe, making it one of the most sought-after achievement awards for health and safety worldwide.

“RoSPA is very proud of the achievements of its entrants, and with this award we recognise the best of the best, those organisations that have gone the extra mile, raising the bar for the delivery of safety in the workplace. Employees, wherever they may be should be able to go to work safe in the knowledge that they will return home unharmed and healthy at the end of every day. Our RoSPA Award winners are central to achieving this goal.”

PD Ports will be presented with its prestigious award at a virtual ceremony in September.

DRIVER SHORTAGES ARE PUSHING LOGISTICS TOWARDS UNPRECEDENTED CRISIS

Pall-Ex Group has joined other leading logistics businesses in highlighting the crisis the industry faces as a result of crippling driver shortages.

As the average age of HGV drivers in the UK continues to increase, currently standing at 56, and fewer young people enter the industry, Pall-Ex Group shareholder member businesses are struggling to find drivers to carry out collections and deliveries in a time when demand for such services has increased significantly.

The skills gap and the resulting climate has resulted in a situation where stock shortages of household items and grocery essentials are already being seen and has been described as a “perfect storm” by Paul Sanders, Chairman of the Association of Pallet Networks (APN) in an open letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Pall-Ex Group operates two pallet networks in the UK, Pall-Ex and Fortec, and independent haulage businesses are shareholder members of each network.

These members are facing the challenge head on to continue to deliver sector leading levels of service for customers across the UK.

When surveyed, 74% of Pall-Ex Group members said that they were affected by driver shortages every single day, and 100% said that the situation was causing their business to suffer.

One such member is Pall-Ex shareholder member STD Developments Limited of Congleton, Cheshire, and Managing Director, Craig Stevens, has explained the impact the driver shortage is having on his business.

He comments: “We are finding it hard to continue to deliver the quality service we have built our reputation on. It is something that our customers and fellow network members now expect from us.

“If things carry on the way they are going, profits will start to drop and we will be forced to increase our prices, as will all other transport businesses. This will have a massive impact on the price of goods purchased in the UK.”

Asked about how he believes the shortage can be rectified, Craig continues: “There needs to be a greater incentive for young people to get into driving HGVs.

“Providing support with the cost of training and forcing insurance companies to cover new drivers would be a step in the right direction to solving the problem.”

Mirroring the sentiment shared by Craig and the team at STD Developments, Fortec Shareholder member Brocklehurst Transport Ltd is also experiencing the challenges brought about by the driver shortage.

Dave Webster, Managing Director of Brocklehurst Transport Ltd, comments: “If nothing changes, we will have to park our trucks up. We will not be able to operate as a business.

“To improve the situation, I’d like to see a relaxation of the CPC regulations allowing drivers, whose certification has lapsed, to come back into the business and have 12 months grace to complete refresher training.”

In addition, Dave continues: “The Government needs to encourage insurance companies to lower the minimum age from 25 to 21, as this means so many more talented young drivers can enter the industry. This would be a massive help!”

Kevin Buchanan is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pall-Ex Group and has been a member of the transport industry for over 30 years, in which time he has held various positions, both managerial and operational.

With his wealth of experience, he understands how important skilled drivers are to the logistics industry as a whole, as well as Pall-Ex Group and its members.

He comments: “As an industry, we are facing one of the greatest challenges of a generation.

“The combination of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the driver shortage that has been an ever-increasing threat for several years.

“Drivers having to isolate and those who have chosen to leave the industry because of covid, as well as a vastly reduced talent pool thanks to most European drivers no longer having freedom of movement into the UK has seen the number of skilled drivers fall off a cliff in the last 18 months.”

Stressing the importance of action, Kevin says: “The government must act immediately to protect the supply chain that has kept Britain moving for the last 18 months.

“The government has always been slow to recognise the transport sector as a key industry in this country. But now, more than ever, it is vital that it does not neglect the heroes who were hailed as key workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, who transported everything from life-saving medical supplies to toilet roll. That simply cannot be allowed to happen.”

Pall-Ex Group is the latest leading transport business to call on the government to save the industry and put urgent measures in place to prevent a crisis.

For more information about driving opportunities within Pall-Ex Group, please visit www.pallex.co.uk/vacancies.

NEW APPOINTMENTS KEEP PALL-EX GROUP ON THE ROAD TO GROWTH

Pall-Ex Group has expanded its network team with a raft of new appointments to support on-going growth.

The logistics giant has doubled its team to 12 following the acquisition of the Fortec Distribution Network in 2020 and the introduction of its shareholder model.

Laura Brown, Nick Antill-Holmes, Alice Holdsworth and Kieran Lloyd Jones have been appointed Network Compliance Managers, while Rebecca Wayte has joined as Head of Network – North and Craig Chapman as Head of Network – South East, Emma Beales as Head of Network – Midlands and Ashely Diamond as Head of Network – South West.

Member Development Director, Mark Barlow, has recently been appointed to increase shareholder membership, focusing on key regions for the Fortec Distribution Network, including Scotland.

Together the team will ensure that existing shareholders meet strict quality and customer service standards, support individual business growth plans and aid member recruitment.

Pall-Ex Group now dominates the pallet network industry with more than 160 haulier shareholder members operating across Pall-Ex and the Fortec Distribution Network.

Sue Buchanan, Director of Network, comments: “A sharp increase in service demand within the B2C sector has underlined the need for membership growth and improved efficiency within our networks, particularly in rural locations.

“We are pleased to welcome Laura, Nick, Alice, Kieran, Rebecca, Craig, Emma, Ashley and Mark to the team and look forward to strengthening the Pall-Ex Group network with their support.

“With more than 70 years’ combined industry experience, their experience and knowledge of the sector will be vital to strengthening our networks on behalf of our members and our customers.”

Rebecca Wayte, who has worked in logistics for 18 years, comments: “My main responsibilities are to continue improvement of service, quality and revenue growth for our members in the North and I will work closely with them to achieve our collective goals.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team to grow freight volumes and shareholder membership for the Fortec Distribution Network over the next 12 months.”

Craig Chapman, who brings 17 years’ logistics experience to the role, comments: “Pall-Ex Group is at an exciting point in its evolution; the fact we are now a member shareholder network means we can channel our energy and focus on being the best in the industry.

“By ensuring the South East region is stable and future proofed, we can realise our strategic goals for the Group.”

DAVIES TURNER STRIKES GOLD FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY

Davies Turner PLC has received a RoSPA Gold Award in recognition of the high standards of its health and safety performance during the period from January 01, 2020, to December 31, 2020.

Every year, nearly 2,000 entrants compete to achieve the highest possible accolade in what is the UK’s longest-running awards for health and safety and organisations receiving a RoSPA Gold Award are recognised as being world-leaders in this area of business administration.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s achievements director, said: “The RoSPA Awards scheme is the longest-running of its kind in the UK, but it receives entries from organisations across the globe, making it one of the most sought-after achievement awards for health and safety worldwide.

“RoSPA is very proud of the achievements of its entrants, and with this award we recognise the best of the best, those organisations that have gone the extra mile, raising the bar for the delivery of safety in the workplace.”

Philip Stephenson, chairman of the Davies Turner Group, said: ”For many years, health and safety responsibilities have been of great importance to the Davies Turner Group, and we have been actively involved in numerous initiatives to secure the health and safety of staff and visitors at our many freight hubs across the UK and Ireland.

“The formal recognition of our health and safety standards makes sound business sense, and demonstrates the company’s governance ethos and commitment on these issues.

“Over the last few years, we have also seen our clients seeking greater evidence that Davies Turner is fully engaged with environmental, social and compliance issues or objectives as they seek reassurance that they are dealing with a company that fully understands its corporate responsibilities.”

The latest award is in addition to last year’s certification of the Environmental Management System that is in place at four of the Davies Turner Group’s regional distribution centres in the UK to the ISO14001:2015 standard.

The company acquired ISO9001 accreditation for its quality management systems in 2013 followed by HMRC recognition as one of the UK’s first Authorised Economic Operators (AEO).  Davies Turner Air Cargo has also long held the Investors in People (IIP) award, meeting the highest standards of people management.

Stephenson concluded: “The latest award, along with our other certifications, adds to DT Group’s list of achievements in the field of internationally recognised standards of quality, safety, health and environmental responsibility, and further demonstrates our commitment to sound business administration practices to all of the company’s stakeholders.”

FREIGHT SERVICE AWARDS NOW OPEN FOR ENTRY

Entries are now open for the British International Freight Association (BIFA) – www.bifa.org – annual Freight Service Awards competition.

Now in their 33rd year, BIFA’s Freight Service Awards are open to all Members of the trade association, which represents UK companies engaged in the international movement of freight by all modes of transport.

As well as encouraging and rewarding high standards and professionalism, these awards, which are free to enter, also represent the ultimate recognition of special achievement in different sectors of the freight forwarding and logistics industry.

Sponsored by a number of blue chip companies, each of the eleven award categories is recognised as very prestigious and winning an award has become more coveted year-on-year.

The deadline for entry is Thursday, 7 October 2021 and entry forms can be downloaded from https://awards.bifa.org/awards

Finalists will be announced towards the end of this year, with the winners being revealed at the BIFA Freight Service Awards ceremony on Thursday, 20 January 2022, which has become an annual event on the industry calendar, typically attracting more than 500 BIFA members and their guests.

Comments Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA: “The awards represent the chance for the best in the industry to be recognised by their peers, and every year the standards improve.

“In spite of the issues caused by the pandemic last year, the BIFA 2020 Awards were well supported by Members, culminating in an online awards ceremony. I sincerely hope that January 2022 will see a return to the traditional luncheon ceremony at our usual venue, The Brewery in central London, to celebrate the BIFA Awards 2021 competition.

“The disruption over the last year caused by the pandemic, EU-Exit, chaos in the container and airfreight sectors, among other issues, presented Members with multiple obstacles and the judges are expecting a bumper crop of entries detailing the inventive and innovative methods that forwarders have developed to meet those challenges.”

The BIFA Freight Service Awards are separated into eleven categories, as follows:

General categories

Project Forwarding
Specialist Services
Staff Development
Supply Chain Management

Modal categories

Air Cargo Services
European Logistics
Ocean Services

Specialist categories

Cool & Special Cargoes
Extra Mile

Individual categories

Young Freight Forwarder of the Year
Apprentice of the Year

Sharon Hammond, BIFA’s Training, Media & Events Co-ordinator adds: “Some of the blue chip names secured as category sponsors include Albacore Systems, BoxTop Technologies, IAG Cargo, Peter Lole Insurance Brokers and TT Club, and whilst there are some sponsorship opportunities still available, these are disappearing fast.”

Further information relating to entries and sponsorship opportunities can be obtained by visiting the BIFA website https://awards.bifa.org/awards

Keen concludes: “The awards are an important part of BIFA’s mission to encourage our Members in their pursuit of improved standards and excellence within the logistics and supply chain industry.”

WORLD’S FIRST INTERNATIONAL WORKPLACE MENTAL HEALTH STANDARD PUBLISHED

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has published BS ISO 45003:2021: Occupational Health and Safety Management. Psychological Health and Safety at Work. Guidelines for Managing Psychosocial Risks.

To help organisations prioritise people by supporting the mental health of workers, this British Standard aims to provide simple, practical guidance on how to manage the psychosocial hazards that arise in the work environment and that challenge health, safety and well-being at work.

It is aimed at all types and sizes of organisation, across all sectors. Specific users will include:

  • Line managers
  • HR staff
  • Business owners
  • CEOs and board members.

BS ISO 45003:2021 gives guidance on managing psychological health and safety risks within an occupational health and safety management system. It addresses the many areas that can impact a worker’s psychological health, including ineffective communication, excessive pressure, poor leadership and organizational culture.

The standard covers aspects such as how to identify the conditions, circumstances and workplace demands that have the potential to impair the psychological health and well-being of workers; how to identify primary risk factors and assess them to determine what changes are required to improve the working environment; and how to identify and control work-related hazards and manage psychosocial risk within an occupational health and safety management system.

Norma McCormick, Project Leader of the ISO technical committee that developed the standard, said stressors such as uncertainty, fear, isolation and changing workloads have been exacerbated for many workers during this period, but the standard is not just about COVID-19.

“Every organization has occupational health and safety responsibilities, and the current pandemic has brought into sharp focus the important role that psychological health in the workplace plays,” she said.

“While many have felt powerless about the impact of recent events, there are many things that can be done to build the resilience of staff and promote a strong organizational culture. This standard brings together international best practice in this area and is relevant to companies of all types and sizes.”

This new standard is a tool that anyone can use to prioritise the people within an organisation. It aims to help:

  • Identify where psychosocial risks arise and how they can be mitigated or eliminated.
  • Users develop expertise.
  • Increase people’s trust.
  • Manage risk better.

By preventing work-related ill-health, organisations can benefit from:

  • Improved worker engagement.
  • Enhanced productivity and higher levels of discretionary effort.
  • Increased innovation.
  • Greater organizational resilience and legal compliance.

Conversely, BSI suggests that the costs of not prioritising people and their psychosocial health can lead to:

  • Poor health, including cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Poor health behaviours, including substance abuse and unhealthy eating.
  • Reduced job satisfaction, commitment and performance.
  • Increased absence from workplace stress, burnout, anxiety and depression.
  • Higher costs for the organization due to negative impacts on turnover, productivity, quality, training and recruitment.
  • Higher costs from workplace investigations, litigation and reputational damage.

RHA LEADS CALL FOR ACTION WITH LOGISTICS ON THE ROPES

Road Haulage Association (RHA) has written a letter calling on Government to address the driver shortage amid evidence from ONS that transportation and storage is in crisis. The RHA letter cites the double blow of COVID and Brexit along with complications caused by IR35 in exacerbating the already difficult position of hauliers.

The letter decries ‘the long-term ineffectiveness of apprenticeships for lorry drivers and the general hostility from authorities and Government towards lorries and road transport in general’, while emphasising that ‘there is a need for tangible short-term urgent actions’ to confront the shortage.

The strong wording of the letter reflects the disturbing nature of statistics appearing in the ONS report. A staggering 9.6% of transportation and storage companies have now reportedly closed their doors permanently, with 15% temporarily shuttered. Even the accommodation and food service and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, which many feared would bear the worst brunt of the COVID slump, have weathered the crisis far better. Although a great proportion of hospitality and arts businesses have seen a downturn in revenue, numbers going under have been significantly lower, with only 0.3% of arts businesses permanently closed. While the resilience of these businesses is impressive, the stark contrast to logistics firms shows how vulnerable the sector is to shocks.

Some voices in the sector have related the present difficulties directly to Brexit. While COVID appears to have contributed greatly to the downturn in other sectors of the economy, the problems presented by Brexit are of particular concern for hauliers, given that the sector is intimately affected by any issues with import/export. ONS’ report that ‘the proportions of businesses experiencing challenges in importing and exporting are broadly unchanged since January 2021’ is disheartening, since it underlines the ongoing nature of a problem that some feel should have been resolved already.

But along with the short-term difficulties presented by Brexit and COVID there are also longer-term issues which need to be faced.

The RHA letter takes pains to draw links between the two. Prime among the RHA letter’s recommendations for addressing the crisis is a rethinking of the way the administration values skills. RHA asserts, ‘Current Government policy in this area, to ban a skilled job from the Shortage Occupation List because of random and notional academic standards, is defective.’

The letter places such policy amid a wider context of dismissiveness and disrespect towards the essential work done by those in the sector. Whitehall is not alone in coming under fire for this; the letter also cites undervaluing by local authorities and hostility from the education sector towards apprenticeships as obstacles to resolving the crisis. Ultimately, a society-wide shift in the way undervalued essential workers seems to be on the agenda. The question is, will it happen?

RHA is asking you to do two very quick things.

  1. Complete this very short and focused survey to show how the shortage of drivers is impacting your business. All information collected will be kept confidential and used to provide an overview of the industry and not that of individual companies.
  2. Increase pressure on Government by using this quick and easy tool to request your local MP to write to Government and support these asks. A letter has already been written for you, all you need to do is enter a few brief details and the letter will be sent immediately on your behalf.