Line Worker Research

Linemen Attentiveness
Line Worker Research (Phase I)
 – The Effect of Cognitive Training on Electric Line Worker Attentiveness

In October 2013 Power of Learning, Inc. and its sponsors (Appalachian Power Company, Roanoke, VA., Atkinson Power, Broomfield, CO, Shakopee Public Utilities, Shakopee, MN, and Wilson Construction, Canby, OR) launched a study on the effectiveness of cognitive training on attentiveness of electric line workers. The overall goal of this study was to potentially provide a means for workers to reduce incidents and injuries on the job by strengthening their attentiveness. Ward Andrews, who is Safety Director for Wilson Construction said “We know the vast majority of incidents are caused by inattention and we want to investigate ways we might be able to help workers improve their ability to focus”.

The research team was lead by Jim Walters EdD president of Power of Learning, Mark Stellmack PhD, and Stan Sheft PhD. The research was completed in November of 2014 and an abstract of the results are presented here:

Abstract

This research builds on previous studies that identify inattentiveness as a causal factor of accidents. In this study, the effectiveness of online cognitive training exercises in increasing the attentiveness of electric power line installers was assessed. Participants, selected from two electric utilities and two electric power contractors, were randomly placed in either a control or a treatment group. Only the treatment group completed cognitive training, with both groups participating in pre- and post-tests of sustained attention using the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART). A significant trade-off between response accuracy and reaction time on SART was obtained for both groups. Two t-tests for each group’s pre-and post-test, and a MANCOVA test of accuracy and reaction time revealed a significant effect of cognitive training on performance on the SART test. The results of this experiment followed the trend of previous research that cognitive training can increase sustained attention ability. This research expands the body of knowledge on aspects of human error and attentiveness that may relate to job safety and the results lay the groundwork for follow-up research designed to determine whether increased attentiveness as a result of cognitive training can reduce accident rates.

If you would like a copy of the full results contact Dr. Walters at 507-990-8110 or jimw@poweroflearning.org. The complete report of findings is currently being considered for publication in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.

Phase II – Will improved cognitive functioning result in fewer accidents?

Phase I demonstrated that cognitive training can improve attentiveness and memory, but does not answer the ultimate question Does cognitive training reduce accident rates? Therefore, we are seeking sponsors for Phase II of the research to answer the question Will improved cognitive functioning result in fewer accidents? Phase II is presently under consideration by the National Electric Contractors Association (NECA).

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