WHY IN JAPAN TRAIN DRIVERS AND STATION AGENTS POINT ALL WITH THEIR FINGER?
It's hard not to notice it when you take the train in Japan. Employees wearing uniforms in the railway company colors and white gloves routinely point their finger at the wharf when the trains enter and leave the station. The situation is also part of the conductors' day-to-day life. They have to point a series of signs, dials and buttons during their journey.
Japanese rail system has one of the best reputations in the world. 12 billion passengers are transported with punctuality each year.
Train conductors, drivers and railway personnel play an important role in the safe and efficient operation of the lines. A key aspect of this success is the variety of physical gestures and vocal calls they perform while fulfilling their duties. Although this may seem unnecessary in the eyes of visitors, movements and shouts are an innovative Japanese industrial security method known as "pointing-and-calling", a system that reduces work errors by up to 85%.
Known in Japanese as shisa kanko (差 喚 呼 呼), pointing-and-calling is based on the principle of associating its tasks with physical movements and the voice to avoid errors by "raising the level of consciousness of workers" according to the National Occupational Safety and Health Institute of Japan. Rather than relying on a worker's eyes or habit, each step in a given task is physically and audibly reinforced to ensure that the step is complete and accurate.
In the railway context, when train drivers want to perform a required speed control, they do not just look at a display. On the contrary, the speedometer will be physically pointed by pronouncing the phrase "speed control, 80". For station personnel, who ensure that safety is preserved on the platforms (no object dropped or passenger fallen), a visual scan alone is not enough. Instead, the attendant will point at the wharf and sweep his arm along the entire length following the eye movement, before making a clear statement that everything is fine. The process keeps going until the train has completely left the station, ensuring that bags or passengers are not hung on the closed doors of the train.
This system is in place accros several industries in Japan. Originally developed by the Kobe Railway Administration Office, which disappeared in the early 20th century, it is known that pointing-and-calling reduces work errors by 85%, according to a 1996 study .
Despite its simplicity and efficiency, this method seems to be exclusive to Japan. Japanese commentators have theorized that Western employees feel "stupid" in performing the required gestures and calls.
Japanese workers are not always very comfortable when it comes to "pointing-and-calling", but after training, they recognize pointing-and-calling as necessary for safety, and therefore do not feel embarrassed.
Translated from MEHDI ELHANI's article on https://dozodomo.com/bento/2017/04/03/conducteur-train-agent-gare-japon-pointe-doigt/