About Us

Safety Research Institute

Major Research Topics in Recent Years

(1) Basic Research

  • Basic research on mechanisms of a chain of errors
  • Basic research on attention characteristics under high arousal condition
  • Basic research on accident analyses (using FRAM) for understanding latent risks of human-machine interactions
  • Research on relationship between work engagement and safety behavior

(2) Research Related to Human Factors of Employees:

  • Research on measures for preventing sleepiness in train drivers, etc.
  • Research on sleepiness of night shift
  • Research on cooperation between train drivers and conductors
  • Research on measures to cope with irregular situations
  • Research on mental load caused by safety fence on platform during driving trains
  • Assessment of the effects of Human Factor Education
  • Research on prevention of railway accidents caused by human error

(3) Research on human-machine interaction

  • Research on human-machine interaction
  • Evaluation of monitors‘ visibility for checking passengers flow
  • Design and visibility assessment of prototype light-emitting signal
  • Research on sound volume of alarm suitable for driving trains
  • Research on design of control panel in train cabs of 227 Series
  • Research on skill acquisition of driving a new train model

(4) Research Related to the Human Factors of Passengers

  • Research on measures for intoxicated individuals on the platform
  • Research on preventing accidents caused by using smartphone at stations
  • Evacuation behaviors and rescue activities in railroad tunnel fire accidents
  • Research on behavioral characteristics of elderly pedestrians on level crossings

Anken, Vol. 11 — Research Results Report

Anken cover page

The 11th volume of “Anken” included a summary of the Safety Research Institute’s 2017 research results.

Anken, Vol. 11 — Research Results Report (PDF; 1,588 KB)

  • 1 Psychological conditions of passengers confined in a train

    The psychological condition of passengers might deteriorate when they are confined in a train for a long time because of increasing discontent and anxiety. A scenario in which passengers were trapped in a train for an extended period was assumed, and a questionnaire was administered to investigate the passengers’ psychological condition, as well as factors that deteriorate or improve their condition.

  • 2 Factors causing communication errors

    Some accidents and incidents might be caused by communication errors. For example, we hear reasons including “I could not convey the necessary information to other people,” “other people did not correctly understand the content of the information,” and “I mistook instructions intended for others with instructions intended for myself,” among others. Therefore, it is important to decrease communication errors to prevent accidents and incidents. This study systematically classified communication errors and organized factors causing these errors.

  • 3 Risk sensitivity related to conductors’ judgments during train departures

    Conductors assess safety and send a departure signal to train operators before a train departs from the stations. At such times, conductors check if passengers and their baggage have been caught in train doors, check whether pilot lamps have gone off indicating that doors are closed, check the passengers on the platform, and make the judgment to start the train. However, passengers’ behaviors might differ based on the route and the time of day. Moreover, the judgments of different conductors might also vary. A survey was conducted with active conductors to identify the factors based on which conductors judge the condition of passengers on the platform as too dangerous to start a train.

  • 4 Skills training programs for trainee train operators

    Every year, a number of trainee train operators (trainees) fail to complete skills training courses after they are assigned to workplaces due to physical or mental condition. Railroad engineer training centers have been trying to reduce the number of such dropouts by sharing information on trainees’ personalities obtained during theory lectures at their workplaces. In previous studies conducted to improve the efficacy of this approach, training officers at different workplace evaluated trainees by using 34 characteristics related to the ability to complete skills training courses. As a result, 27 characteristics were extracted. Moreover, it was indicated that trainees having negative relationships with Train operation instructors tended not to complete the training course. In the present survey, these 27 characteristics were analyzed from two perspectives by changing the evaluator. These items included those directly related to completing the training course and items related to relationships with Train operation instructors.

  • 5 Conditions of traversing railroad level crossings

    In a survey conducted in 2016, videos of problems at railroad crossings, such as train delays caused by pedestrians or cyclists passing the crossing, were analyzed. However, the normal condition of pedestrians was not examined. In the present study, the volume of pedestrians crossing the railroad was examined, and the number of traffic violators that entered the crossing after the alarms sounded, and pedestrians trapped in railroad crossings were investigated.

  • 6 Effective railroad-crossing signs

    In 2015, the ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism reported that the number of accidents at level crossings with barriers and alarms during the past five years was 0.82 per 100 crossings1). On the other hand, the number of accidents at level crossings with only an alarm was 1.03. These figures show that the frequency of accidents at the latter type of crossings was higher than at the former, despite the heavier traffic, and more and faster trains. Warning signs that would facilitate the stopping behavior of car drivers before they cross railroad tracks were aimed to develop to prevent accidents at level crossings with only alarms. We examined the most effective signs among signs developed based on accident analysis and psychological data using drive simulators.

  • 7 Basic study of cognitive control

    Previous experiments have indicated that arousing emotions such as surprise and upset when problems occur subsequently cause more errors1). It was also indicated that such chains of errors might be caused even without the involvement of emotions. This study focused on cognitive controls, other than emotional factors, which are related to attention as a possible variable causing errors. The study of cognitive controls was conducted using a simple task.

  • 8 Survey on ease of hearing words in noisy conditions based on the position and distance of the sound source (articulation test)

    The settings, offices, and control rooms become very noisy when unusual incidents occur because many different people articulate many words in these situations. Even under these conditions, it is necessary to accurately convey information including verbal instructions to people at a distance. Therefore, an articulation test was conducted to examine the ease of hearing words in noisy environments based on the position and distance from others.

Previous Main Research Results

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Our Teaching Materials

A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor: Effective Examples for Workers

In March 2007, the Safety Research Institute published their research results as safety teaching material under the title, A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor: Effective Examples for Workers. This publication was distributed to all employees and group companies. The following April, a member of the Safety Research Institute staff visited each JR-West branch office and provided lectures on teaching material concepts, “human factor” definitions, and utilization of teaching materials on site.

The publication received a lot of attention not only from within the company but also from outside the company, leading to requests for information on safety initiatives even beyond the railway industry. That attention also included high praise from experts, resulting in the publication being taken up by numerous media outlets, drawing even more attention outside of the industry.

A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor: Effective Examples for Workers not only touched on various matters related to human factors (32 topics) that railway staff should know, but it also featured examples of familiar events and incorporated an abundance of illustrations and diagrams in an easy-to-understand manner. (A4 size, 100 pages)

No. of copies delivered within the company (to employees, group companies, etc.): Approx. 54,600 / No. of copies delivered outside the company: Approx. 97,400 (as of March 2018)
A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor: Effective Examples for Workers front cover / inside look
Chapters 1 and 2 focused on errors caused by the body and mind, respectively.
Chapters 3 and 4 introduced countermeasures based on examples including errors that are likely to occur in a workplace (in a group).

A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor, Vol.2: Effective Examples for Team Leaders

In March 2017, A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor, Vol.2: Effective Examples for Team Leaders was introduced as a sequel to A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor: Effective Examples for Workers with a focus on academic research as well as the previous book. This follow-up included teaching materials that focused on information management supervisors on the industry frontlines should know, and was distributed to employees and group companies on the industry frontlines. Continuing on from the first publication, A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor, Vol.2: Effective Examples for Team Leaders introduced topics (7 in total) geared toward management supervision in an easy-to-understand way using familiar events as examples and with various illustrations and charts. (A4 size, 50 pages)

The Safety Research Institute sent representatives to branch offices to give lectures related to this publication as well, including on methods for utilizing the teaching materials contained within.

A Practical Introduction to the Human Factor, Vol.2: Effective Examples for Team Leaders front cover / inside look

Guidelines for Preventing Sleepiness of Train drivers: For Health and Safety

The Safety Research Institution published the Guidelines for Preventing Sleepiness of Train drivers: For Health and Safety for operators in November 2009. In an effort to prevent sleepiness in train crew members, the Safety Research Institute actively researches the body and sleep mechanisms of people based on academic studies as an essential factor in preventing sleepiness.

The Institute has been giving lectures on measures against sleepiness with a focus on crew members for some time. However, in an effort to prevent traffic accidents, the Institute has also begun giving sleepiness prevention lectures for night employees in the eletext_rightical and services field. (A4 size, 36 pages)