When an operator is involved in a safety critical incident it is commonplace for investigators to focus on the hardware (e.g., equipment), environmental (e.g., weather) and software factors (e.g., shift and break times) that may have contributed to the incident. However it is important to also assess the operator characteristics (e.g., psychological and neuropsychological factors) that may have contributed to the incident.
Simone has been conducting comprehensive clinical neuropsychological assessment of train drivers following their involvement in a safety critical incident for a national transport company since 2010. Her assessments have revealed that the most common difficulties experienced by drivers includes difficulties with attention (i.e., selective, alternating, divided) and executive functioning (i.e., planning, problem solving, disinhibition, cognitive flexibility, perseveration, temporal sequencing, self-monitoring, rule following).
When deficits have been identified, the train drivers have subsequently participated in a cognitive remediation program, comprising of computer based training and coaching sessions with the train driver and relevant personnel (e.g., tutor driver). These sessions are behavioural and intensive in nature and drivers are required to attain a degree of demonstrated mastery over coping skills prior to release for unsupervised driving.
Upon completion of the remediation program, the drivers are re-assessed and their performance had improved and was maintained 12-months post the completion of the remediation program. These drivers benefited significantly from the remediation program, which indicates that this program offers an alternative supportive process for employers to assist drivers following their involvement in a safety critical incident.