Distracted Worker Problem Highlights Human Performance Disaster
I have previously called attention to human performance implications of distracted individuals. Such distractions can negatively impact drivers, pilots and even pedestrians.
The findings released in a report from German investigators and prosecutors accuse a Deutshce Bahn (German Rail) employee distraction resulting in a deadly train crash this past February in Bad Aibling.
The allegation alleges that a train dispatcher (who was responsible for the stretch of track where two commuter trains collided head on resulting in 11 fatalities and more than 80 injured) was distracted from monitoring the trains and the track because he was using his smartphone until shortly before the tragic crash occurred.
The allegation states that the employee turned on the smartphone, opened an online game application and played actively until just before the tragic collision.The accusation states that the employee was distracted from managing the trains at the intersection, which was a primary job responsibility.
At the last possible moment, he attempted to activate an emergency signal for the train operators but apparently pressed the wrong buttons in the stressful moment.
The employee is now facing charges of negligent homicide, negligent injury and dangerous intervention of rail traffic. He has admitted to playing the game on his smartphone but denies that he was distracted from his duties.
The issue of distracted workers is a persistent challenge that we must continue to press forward seeking systematic changes and mitigation steps.