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Railway network controllers grind to a halt: Investigation into sedentary work risks and practical solutions
journal contributionposted on 07.06.2021, 03:55 by Dennis Duncan, Elise CrawfordElise Crawford, Karen KlocknerKaren Klockner, Joshua GuyJoshua Guy
This paper examines the development of sedentary work practices for railway network control room workers. The railway control room is used to illustrate how subtle changes to this unique work environment have covertly led to health risks more commonly found in traditional office settings. Advancements in railway technology have been introduced to primarily increase safety, however, they have gradually led to higher levels of sedentary work in the control room and have unwittingly introduced new health risks. The complicating factor for the railways is that network controllers are faced with the added burden of extended shifts and working with safety-critical systems. To date, Human Factors / Ergonomic (HF/E) research within network control rooms has traditionally focussed on the cognitive issues that arise at the human-automation interface; therefore, few studies have focused on the new, less obvious sedentary physical risks and their emerging resultant health issues. In looking for workplace solutions, interventions are needed to reduce, or interrupt, bouts of sedentary time, rather than to focus on increasing physical activity alone. This paper discusses the increased risks associated with sedentary work and sedentary time and a number of practical solutions have been offered to support risk reduction in the railway control room.