Safety first

PSYCHOLOGICAL testing of potential employees to identify risk takers is emerging as the latest weapon in the war against workplace accidents.
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Marija Stojkovic

One person dies almost every day as a result of workplace injury, according to the latest figures from the Australian Safety and Compensation Council.

And despite businesses spending billions each year on safety, training and other initiatives to improve occupational health and safety in workplaces, around 90% of workplace accidents are caused by human error.

In an effort to identify unsafe people during the recruitment process, Brisbane-based online human resources solutions provider Onetest has spent 18 months developing and testing an online work safety assessment tool.

The tool, an Australian first of its type, measures candidates’ safety attitudes long before workers have the opportunity to wreak havoc in the workplace.

The test is conducted online and considers five key attributes of safety: safety control, risk aversion, attitudes towards violence, drug aversion, and stress management.

Onetest managing director Steve Dahl said the tool was developed to be utilised in any industry that has elements of risk in terms of the work being carried out.

“The benefits of the testing for employers are that the assessment can help minimise the possibility of high risk candidates or those candidates with a poor attitude to safety entering the organisation in the first place,” he said.

“The benefit for employees or job seekers is that if they are unsafe or a high risk candidate, then the employer to which they’re going for a job with can consider putting them into a lower risk environment.

“Also, the benefit for other employees is that their livelihood and their life won’t be put at risk from high risk candidates coming into the workforce.”

Dahl said the test could help reduce workplace accidents and compensation claims.

One company that has adopted the test as part of its standard recruitment strategy is labour hire firm Vedior Asia-Pacific, formerly Select Australasia.

Since adopting the assessment, Vedior has reported a 71% reduction in WorkCover claim costs and a decrease in lost time due to injury of up to 40%.

The test could also help boost a potential employer’s profile with a good safety track record.

“There’s no denying that an organisation that has a good track record from a safety point of view is a more attractive employer; however, the employers will need to promote the fact they value safety and that they have a good safety record,” Dahl said.

The Onetest safety assessment tool has been validated in a number of industries including mining and resources, manufacturing, retail and trade.