October is National Safe Work Month in Australia. A yearly reminder for all organisations across the nation to review their current health and safety policies and procedures, focus on improving the safety and wellbeing of the work environment for everyone, while minimising the number of workplace accidents, injuries, risky behaviours, and non-compliant workplace practices.
How are you measuring safety behaviours in your workplace?
How can we create a safer work environment? We know personality preferences can predict a person’s job performance, but did you know research has shown that personality traits are a factor in creating a safer workplace? Certain personality traits are likely to be predictive of unsafe behaviours in the workplace. Therefore, in addition to focusing on improving operational policies and procedures, organisations should consider implementing people initiatives to identify and measure employee behaviours that may be able to predict to safe/unsafe workplace behaviours.
Using Psychometrics to Improve Safety
Health and safety psychometric assessments have been shown in many industries to help predict the possibility of people engaging in healthy and safe workplace behavior based on their ability to listen, comprehend and adhere to health and safety rules, their ability to perceive workplace hazards within their environments and their ability to respond to hazards based on their health and safety understanding. Such assessments are used in occupational settings for recruitment, selection, development and ongoing safety management.
Research has shown that higher cognitive ability is associated with fewer accidents, less deliberate safety violations and lower accident risk and mortality rates. Also, those with more diligent and conscientious personality traits are much less likely to have a safety accident as well.
Applied Case Study
Many industries, including transport and manufacturing, incorporate psychometrics as part of their safety process, with the view of improving safety and reducing costs. In particular, organisations selecting and developing apprentices have utilised the tools to better understand the link between safety and future job performance.
Understanding the link to future job performance is an important factor as according to the National Center for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the current completion rate of apprenticeships is only 56.8%.
Understanding apprentices’ cognitive ability and personality traits help organisations to:
- Inform recruitment and selection decisions
- Provide development plans to support the ongoing safety and performance management of the apprentices
- Identify safety and organisational development initiatives to reduce safety incidents, increase apprentice performance and to maximise apprentice completion rates.
As such, OPRA conducted a study with an Australian apprentice training company by testing all of their apprentices. Apprentices who scored ‘high risk’ on the psychometric profiles, accounted for approximately 80% of all safety and performance incidents within the organisation. After implementing psychometrics as part of their selection process for incoming apprentices, the organisation has since recorded:
- 10% reduction in Lost Time Injury rates
- A reduction of $130,000 in workers compensation premium
- Improved apprentice completion rate to 67%, compared to the national industry average of 56.8%
Such health and safety assessments can be advantageous for the selection and development of frontline workers in many industries. To find out how health and safety assessments may benefit your organisation, please contact your local OPRA consultant.