Sentinel Site Access: the key to stamp out double shifting

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 2015

In our last edition, RTM talked to Network Rail programme manager for Sentinel, Andrew Bilous, who told us how workforce safety is improving thanks to increasing authentication rates on the rail infrastructure. In this article, Sentinel project manager, Angi Bell, explains more about Site Access and the changes due in January 2016, which will fundamentally alter the way the whole industry uses Sentinel. She also explains the work over the past 18 months to tighten the net on double shifters.

Site Access enhancements have been extremely challenging. The project team has worked tirelessly to bring a huge variety of different, and at times complex, infrastructure access arrangements into one place, to fit the whole industry. The biggest challenge here is to do it in a way that makes it easy and logical to use, while staying fully focused on the shared industry commitment to stamp out double shifting. While Site Access delivers significant safety benefits, it has also seized the opportunity to increase efficiency and give card-holders themselves something back. Through Site Access, Sentinel will be used every day. The redesign of mobile apps, in particular, makes this easy to achieve.

The Site Access changes

The new functionality enhances swipe-in capability, where users will be asked what location they are swiping-in to (location of work and not GPS), the role they will be undertaking on that shift, what time of day they left their place of rest, how long they are planned to work, and how long they anticipate taking to return to their place of rest at the end of the day.

Swipe-out is introduced – as a result the system will ‘alert’ if there has been less than 12 hours rest and require a record that a risk assessment has been completed for the worker before allowing access.

Site Access improves efficiency by recording site-specific inductions, avoiding briefing duplication, and acknowledgement of the trackside safety brief – replacing wet signatures on current paperwork. Finally, Site Access enables card-holders to electronically record use of competence, replacing this section of logbooks (or the whole thing, depending on the type of logbook used).

Sentinel App screen shots

The new apps have increased offline capability to assist users with the challenges we all battle in terms of mobile data signal coverage. The new apps only require a signal for the swipe-in, so that the live ‘authority to work’ information can be retrieved from the database. This connectivity to receive live data is absolutely critical to be certain that a worker has the authority to work on the live infrastructure based on the validity of their medical, D&A (drugs and alcohol) and competence.

From that moment on, the apps work offline, benefiting users with improved service. As each ‘transaction’ is made with the apps, the user can continue at their own pace without interference. Site Access delivers a huge amount of benefit in terms of its functionality, but this last improvement really does put the icing on the cake for us.

‘The scope to really hit double shifting becomes sensational’

As exciting as Sentinel and Site Access are, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is our key to further reduce and deter double shifting, not just on the rail infrastructure but also in the areas away from rail such as construction sites. Now that Transport for London also uses Sentinel, the scope to really hit double shifting becomes sensational.

By delivering, and using, these enhancements – integrating Sentinel into a daily routine – we better arm ourselves not only against double shifting but also strengthen our abilities to better manage basic fatigue indicators. Site Access enables preventative rather than reactive measures to challenge these risks to our workforce.

I was fortunate enough to use the afternoon sessions of our recent Summits to introduce the changes to the audience in terms of functionality and fit to operational practice via innovative presentation packages. We listened to examples of real, emotive instances where double shifting has sadly contributed to fatalities of some of our workers, hitting home the importance of Site Access in Sentinel. In the last session we held an interactive segment where the audience got involved with the team in the showcase of the redesigned app and told me ‘what button (to press) next’.

This session was very enjoyable, received positive feedback and was my first real confirmation that we have succeeded in our goals to make the new apps logical, intuitive, user-friendly and easy to fit to our everyday routine. As the apps now reach their build conclusion we will continue to test these elements under User Acceptance Testing through November to make sure we deliver a gold standard upgrade to the current Sentinel system.

Sentinel Site Access continues to be a challenging and exciting development to lead, with the success so far a direct result of the huge contribution and collaboration from the start and ongoing between Network Rail, the supply chain, sponsors and trade unions. I very much look forward to rolling out our briefings and support mechanisms as we hurtle towards deployment by the end of January 2016.


Davie   06/11/2015 at 13:55

Hello I've got an idea for sentinel why don't you arrange it so we the contractor are in charge of are upload an desponsor off sponsors an also sponsors can email us shifts through sentinel an we accept and are nailed on the shift until it's completed an the only way off would be cancelled /illness an we could not accept another shift within the 24 hr period then the sponsor who gave the shift may with draw us an enable the contactor to accept another shift if we are site access swiped that would monitor are hrs doing away with a primary sponsor as it is I find my d&a an pay also pay for my courses an pay fuel,van,ppe my primary only books courses, d&a an my 10 years medical there are a lot of issues with primary ie not accepting work for other agencies coz they MIGHT need you then in order to swap we need to have a d&a every three months which we have to pay for on agency work it is week to week sometimes day to day I am a limited company an do not have the freedom to work I'm governed by a agency who treats us like I am there full time employee with no benifits at all sometimes work one sat night a week because that's all they I think that contributes to the double shifting if you would like to contact me that would be great

John   06/11/2015 at 16:04

I fully agree with Dave I have just had to pay £85 for a new D&A having gone through a nightmare 18 months with my primary sponsor example, de sponsoring my sub sponsor every Monday ,agreeing rates,hours times then doing the shift only for primary to tell you client wouldn't pay hours agreed were as you work for the primary not the contract and you know the agency are pocketing the money,if you complain they threaten to desponsor you also your classed as trouble but what are you supposed to do they agree rate,hours all on @ mail do two shift get paid, then do the third shift and they take half back of you.who do we complain to its all wrong I'm self employed I've probably lost two months of work this year due these bullying me.One of the day's they'll push someone to far! Most lads are scared to speak out because you'll never work again and it's all wrong

Jess Matthews   16/12/2015 at 14:12

Dear Davie, I have spoken with the Sentinel Site Access Project Manager who has offered the below response to your comments here. Please see below: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Firstly thank you for taking the time to make suggestions which are always welcome and extremely helpful in enabling us to understand any concerns about Sentinel. It is worth recalling why we operate the Sentinel system on our infrastructure, and that is because we want to improve the health and safety of our workforce, which includes our contractors, regardless of whether they work through an employer or an agency. The revised Sentinel Scheme and Smart Card technology improves safety by having a single accountable sponsor to manage fatigue and reduce the risk of double shifting, with an allowance for up to two sub-sponsors to enable Individuals to work safely for more than one sponsor. We do understand that your primary concern is being able to accept work with the minimum of disruption and accept that some sponsors are better at their Sentinel administration than others. Whilst Network Rail are always happy to review the processes in place, we need to make sure any changes do not have the potential to compromise on safety. Sponsors who do not administer Sentinel correctly face the risk of losing future contracts as well as direct action to suspend them as a Sentinel sponsor as the Sentinel Scheme Rules allow for sponsors to be investigated for breaches of the Rules. You can report any safety concerns you may have with a sponsor which include escalating issues with de sponsored to Network Rail via the Sentinel website, by logging into your MySentinel profile. You can also make a report confidentially through CIRAS whose details are printed on the back of every Sentinel card. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Many thanks.

Mr Roberts   13/03/2016 at 21:58

good comment by davie he,s right in what he says as for this double shifting chance would be a fine thing were lucky to get single shifting and thats on a saturday night its all to with control when it comes to contractors and i say who the hell do nwr and friends are to decide who we can work for a contractor can and should be able to work for who they like and when they like when works on offer it does not happen in any other industry in this country its a shame several thousand contractors cannot stick together cause it would be a different ball game.

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