The Effective Testing of X-ray Operators
In this article Moshe Cohen examines the need and the requirements for the use of X-ray testing systems to test operators continually throughout their employment. Moshe Cohen has spent 24 years working in the aviation security sector, commencing his career in Ben Gurion airport. After moving to the UK, he was employed as Director of Security Training for Trans World Airlines and its subsidiary International Technologies, which is based in the UK and is dedicated to the development of CBT and Simulation Testing Programmes, as well as consultancy for government agencies, airports and airlines. In 1988 Moshe led the development and marketing of the first X-ray Simulator and in 200, Renful Premier Technologies introduced the Simfox Threat Image Processor and Simulator X-ray training testing system. Simfox is currently the chosen system for many reputable organisations and is one of the leading programmes worldwide for training testing and X-ray operation evaluation. Trefox has been developed as part of the X-ray training package and is now available on AvsecSchool for new X-ray recruits.
Many published articles have concluded that the human factor, i.e. the X-ray screen is the weakest link in detection of threat items. In this article, I have chosen to highlight the characteristics of an ideal testing and simulation system that will provide X-ray operators continually with the necessary experience and skills to excel in their job.
Through the use of the Simfox system in airports and high security installations, we have learned that weaknesses in detection do not relate exclusively to the training and testing of X-ray screeners, but also to the architectural design of search areas and the processing time given to the operators to identify threat items.
Presentation of Threat Images to Screeners
The Process of qualifying X-ray screeners includes theoretical training on the use of an X-ray machine, its features, safe use, operation and the identification of threat items.
On completion of this section, screeners need to gain experience in identifying threat items in the realistic operational time of about five seconds. While the first part of the training can be handled by computer based training (CBT) system, the second part is not being properly addressed by conventional CBT systems. During many visits to customers who acquired CBT systems, I have frequently heard that screeners remember the items presented to them during training.
Therefore, their progression cannot be necessarily attributed to an increase in image interpretational skills, but by their ability to visually memorise previously unseen threat items. Furthermore, screeners who have gained their experience through on-the-job training, i.e., sitting next to an X-ray screener during the operation, have only increased their interpretational skills if this type of training exceeds three or four weeks.
Simulation Testing
Upon completion of initial training, X-ray screeners frequently lack the required interpretational skills and the assertiveness to confidently identify threat items and so stop the conveyor belt and the passenger. This issue should be addressed by the introduction of simulation technology whereby the screener devotes ten minutes per working day, throughout their employment to practise identification skills using a simulator. The simulator, equipped with freshly -prepared bag testing sessions, registers the employee's abilities in threat identification, threat item classification, detection time and the correct use of image enhancement features. By providing automated feedback reports and registration of results, Simfox contributes to the understanding of screener workforce abilities and limitations.

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