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Newsletter – Assessments take place and IWA

Newsletter – Assessments take place and IWA

When can I book this assessment?

To help with understanding around booking assessments.

There has been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around how and when a workplace assessment (Example – COSS) can be booked and can take place, I am going to expand on the rules that govern us as an assured training provider to help bring clarity and make the booking process easier for you.

If you are wondering what qualifies me to write about this, I have been the training manager and managing director for Richardson Rail since we started operating as an assured training provider on Network Rail infrastructure. I have seen mistakes made, been in audits where errors have been highlighted, listened to and received best practice notices and discussed with the assurance organization views on when certain assessments can be undertaken.

What is needed – All assessments

Assured training providers, as well as railway sponsors are governed by something called the Rail training assurance scheme (RTAS) when it comes to any training or assessment. The scheme has a set of Rules which lay out all the requirements of us as a provider.

This means that there will be some elements for assessments that are mandatory regardless of the competency being assessed. These are;

  1. Sentinel cards are mandatory for all workplace assessments, the forgotten card feature on Sentinel can not be
  2. The work must take place during the candidate’s normal rostered Normal duties cannot be interpreted as anything other than a shift which the candidate is working as deployed by their Sponsor and cannot be for the purpose of the assessment (4.2.21)
  3. Any SWP used for the purpose of the assessment must have been created by a company who is RISQS accredited to do so.


COSS Assessment – Typical examples

The most common issue we have which stops assessments for COSS being booked is when the COSS is working Separated COSS +1. This stops assessments due to a couple of factors;

1) When the assessor is on site, and signs the SWP, it is no longer COSS +1 as there is a COSS, their +1 and the Assessor totaling 3 persons. And 2) Although it is asked if the original

+1 can just not go on site, and it just be the assessor and the COSS this is not allowed, this is due to the work and staff arrangements being altered to fit the assessment breaching the above mentioned RTAS rule (4.2.21) also as the assessor wouldn’t be observing the COSS controlling a WORKING group it would then default to an IWA assessment. (this is guidance given to us by a member of the assurance organization)

The other main issue we have that cancels COSS assessments is when the COSS or the COSS’s work group are more than 3m away from the nearest open line. This is because by the rulebook definition, a COSS is only required when a group is on or near the line, which, unless the line(s) you’re working in are blocked to traffic, if the nearest open line is 3m away, you are not on or near the line by definition.

COSS no longer has IWA?

Although the briefing has been out for a while, it seems some sponsors and individuals are still unaware, so just a reminder that if you hold Controller of site safety (COSS) you can act and work as an IWA. This means that with your COSS competency on Sentinel you do not need IWA, as such Network Rail has requested when assessments are completed on COSS’s, for us to not log the IWA competency.

The brief can be read here