Fading Vigilance: The Unseen Risks of Inadequate X-ray Screening Training

Security X-ray screeners detect and prevent public safety and security threats. They operate sophisticated equipment that scans luggage, cargo, and passengers for prohibited or dangerous items. To perform their duties effectively, they must undergo regular training and testing to maintain their skills and knowledge.

Skill fade is a phenomenon that affects security X-ray screeners who do not practice their threat detection skills regularly. It can lead to a decline in the accuracy and speed of identifying prohibited items in X-ray images, compromising the security and safety of passengers and staff. Therefore, it is essential to understand the impact of skill fade on security X-ray screeners and how to prevent or mitigate it.

According to a research article by Swann et al. (2020), security X-ray screeners develop problem-solving knowledge that supports their search and decision-making during the screening task. This knowledge is based on their experience and situational awareness, and it helps them to deal with uncertainty and complexity in X-ray images. However, if security X-ray screeners do not perform X-ray screening frequently or receive regular feedback and training, their problem-solving knowledge may deteriorate over time, resulting in skill fade.

The impact of skill fade on security x-ray screeners can be measured by various indicators, such as the detection rate, false alarm rate, throughput rate, and confidence level. A lower detection rate means that security X-ray screeners miss more threats or prohibited items in X-ray images. A higher false alarm rate means that security X-ray screeners flag more harmless items as threats or prohibited. A lower throughput rate means that security X-ray screeners take more time to inspect each item or bag. A lower confidence level implies that security X-ray screeners are more unsure about their decisions and may seek assistance from others.

Skill fade can negatively affect airport operations’ security, efficiency, and the morale and motivation of security X-ray screeners. Therefore, it is essential to implement strategies to prevent or mitigate skill fade, such as providing regular refresher training, using computer-based x-ray simulators, applying threat-image projection systems, giving feedback and performance reviews, and creating a supportive and collaborative work environment.

Here are several strategies that can be used to improve x-ray screening skills, such as:

  • Receiving regular refresher training that covers the latest threats and prohibited items, as well as the best practices and procedures for x-ray screening.
  • Using computer-based X-ray simulators that provide realistic and challenging scenarios for X-ray screening, providing immediate feedback and scores on your performance.
  • Applying threat-image projection (TIP) systems that randomly insert images of threats or prohibited items into authentic X-ray images, alerting you when you miss or correctly identify them.
  • Get feedback and performance reviews from supervisors or peers and use them to identify strengths and weaknesses and set goals for improvement.
  • Creating a supportive and collaborative work environment among colleagues, where tips and experiences can be shared, ask for help, and learn from each other. 

Simfox is a computer-based X-ray and CT simulator platform considered a leader in its field. It is designed to train and assess security screeners’ image interpretation and threat detection skills. Simfox is an excellent complement to existing X-ray screening systems, improving safety without compromising operational efficiency. It is suitable for training airport, cargo, or container screeners and offers different simulators that cater to varying budgets and requirements. Developed by Renful Premier Technologies, Simfox is a valuable tool for enhancing security screening practices.

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