In a recent article published in Rail professional Magazine (February, 2024) Dr Steve Fletcher highlights the crucial importance of Non-Technical Skills (NTS) in ensuring safety and job performance across various safety-critical roles in the rail industry and beyond, including signallers, electrical operators, and engineering track workers.
OPC psychologists have conducted hundreds of post-incident interviews and assessments for many roles outside of train drivers. Analysis of the underlying causes reveals that most safety incidents often stem from NTS shortfalls rather than technical skills gaps.
Some generic NTS shortfalls were observed in the analysis, with four main NTS contributors being:
- Failure to anticipate risk – poor risk anticipation
- Diligence in particular regard to checking
- Prioritising time over quality
- Remaining vigilant and aware – being focused on the present
The article provides insight into what some safe and effective behaviours look like in each of these four key NTS and explores some other connecting NTS such as conscientiousness, checking and rules adherence. Individuals that consistently display these key NTS and behaviours are more likely to achieve excellent job performance and have fewer safety incidents.
If these NTS are so important in other safety-critical roles, the piece goes on to emphasize the significance of assessing for NTS in recruitment for safety-critical roles. It suggests that using NTS at recruitment can help uncover untapped talent, promote inclusion and diversity, and remove entry barriers to the industry. OPC Assessment offers a wide range of assessment tools that help identify key NTS.
Dr Fletcher also shares the impact of NTS training to enhance safety-critical role performance – promoting both initial and ongoing development training. The OPC offers a diverse range of NTS training programmes that help managers, mentors, and incident investigators to understand the full benefits of applying NTS. as well as addressing safety-critical NTS performance gaps.
"NTS could have much more extensive benefits than just reducing human errors and improving overall safety performance."
Dr Steve Fletcher, OPC
You can read the article in full here.
Get in touch with the friendly OPC team if you think we can help with any of your NTS recruitment and training needs.