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How To Avoid Hiring Unsafe Employees

The Problem 

Workplace safety is a critical concern for all organisations. The cost of work-related injury and disease in Australia amounts to over 60 billion dollars annually. Of this cost, over half is attributed to technicians and trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers

Research tells us that up to 80% of workplace accidents result from human error. Managing workplace safety is particularly critical in industries such as building and construction, manufacturing, mining, healthcare and social assistance, aviation and transport, logistics, utilities, and agriculture.

So - How do we avoid hiring unsafe employees?

The ‘incident plateau’ has been well-documented in research: this is the observation that the lower an individual’s situational safety awareness, the higher their probability of being involved in a workplace accident.

 Fortunately, it is possible for us to identify ‘high-risk’ attitudes and behaviours in candidates during the recruitment phase. These are behaviours that result in a breakdown of safety alertness and task performance.

 Safety assessments offer insights into an individual’s ability to notice, understand and evaluate the risks around them at work. They measure safety-related attitudes and competencies, such as:

·       ‘safety-mindedness’: awareness of hazards in the environment

·       visual reaction time and reflexes

·       vigilance and attention to surrounding events

·       situational judgment

·       attention to detail and short-term memory

·       risk avoidance

·       willingness to follow safety policies and procedures

·       personal resilience (such as alertness and managing fatigue)

·       dependability, accountability and conscientiousness


Safety assessments can measure skills specific to particular industries: for instance, road safety orientation, safe operation of machinery, stress regulation in high-pressure environments, or compliance with protocols in healthcare settings.

They can also be used to identify specific safety training needs, which are particularly relevant for apprentices and graduates, who may not yet have experience working in safety-conscious environments. Some safety assessments are legally defensible, and can provide a practical defense to Australian OHS Act requirements.

Why should you consider safety testing?

Safety assessments benefit everyone involved. Employees are placed at less risk, and employers benefit from a reduction of absenteeism and injury claims, as well as a greater likelihood of reaching (or maintaining) their ‘zero safety incidents’ targets.

 Research indicates that use of safety testing significantly reduces work-related accidents and workers compensation costs (by 40% on average). A client once told us an astounding story of an ex-employee working on a smelting plant: an object had become stuck to the inside of an enormous vat of molten metal. The employee removed his safety harness, ignored all of the safety warnings and barriers, and climbed into the vat – he scaled the inside and tried to brush the object off with a broom. This incident quite obviously could have been fatal, and greatly concerned management. Sure enough, when they went back to check the employee’s safety testing results from the recruitment phase, he had scored in the ‘well below average’ range: he had not met the organisation’s benchmark result and actually should not have been hired. For the organisation, this ‘near miss’ reinforced the importance of safety testing during recruitment.

They can also minimise legal risk. Just this year, a Queensland organisation was charged with breaching their duty of care to a candidate, by offering him a casual security position without assessing whether he was psychologically suited to its challenges. The court found that a psychological assessment would have indicated that the individual was not able to cope with threatening situations.

Finally: doing your due diligence with safety testing demonstrates that your organisation is actively committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its employees.

If you want more information or want to see how Testgrid can help, get in touch with us today!