An Investigation into the Effects of Chemical Protective Clothing on Team Process Performance
Grugle, Nancy Lynn
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Chemical protective clothing is designed to protect the worker by providing a barrier between the individual and the contaminated environment. Unfortunately, the same equipment that is designed to help can often cause heat stress, reduced task efficiency, and reduced range-of-motion for the worker. Teams as well as individuals suffer from these effects resulting in difficulty communicating, increased task completion time, and reduced productivity. Studies investigating the effects of protective clothing generally focus on individuals; however, the military has produced research related to the effects of Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) on team performance outcomes in an attempt to understand how protective clothing might affect military teams and squads. Previous research has indicated a degradation of team performance as shown by increased task completion time; however, a comprehensive team performance measurement system studies not only the performance outcomes, but also the processes behind the outcomes. In order to provide a more complete understanding of the performance effects of protective clothing and equipment, this investigation focused on the effects of MOPP on the behavioral processes underlying team performance to include adaptability, communication, and coordination. It also attempted to validate previous studies on performance outcomes. Ten subjects formed five, two-member teams. Subjects were certified EMT's from local rescue squads and were required to perform CPR and spinal injury management (SIM). They performed each task twice-once in their duty uniform and once in MOPP level 4. Team performance was measured using the TARGETS methodology, and event-based team process performance measurement technique. A team performance index score (TPI) was calculated for each team for all four tasks and then used as the dependent measure for the analyses to compare team performance in a duty uniform versus performance in MOPP 4. Three hypotheses were tested in this study. They were as follows: team process performance will be degraded by MOPP, task completion time will increase as a result of wearing MOPP, and errors will increase as a result of wearing MOPP. Results of six primary analyses indicated that team process performance was not degraded and the number of errors did not increase when teams were wearing MOPP 4. Results did show, however, that task completion time was significantly longer when teams were wearing MOPP 4. The implications of these results are discussed in the thesis and design changes are put forth.
- Masters Theses