No matter how many safety measures are put in place, accidents will still occur.
All mining companies see safety as a critical factor and take all opportunities to try and minimise the risk.
However this is mostly done through environmental and work policies such as materials handling, and appropriate measures such as protective equipment.
If this was all that was needed, then all risk would be eliminated.
But it is not.
As always, the variable is always the person on the ground, and despite training and inductions there are still accidents occuring.
Speaking to Onetest’s Sheree Curtis, she told Australian Mining that are some workers who are simply more ‘high risk’ than others, and are more likely to be in an accident.
"One way to identify these people who are potentially high risk is to carry out psychometric testing," she said.
Curtis explained that the Work Safety Assessment is essentially a diagnostic tool for companies to better target their OH&S training and development initiatives to raise safety levels across the board.
The tool works by looking at an individual’s attitude and beliefs towards work safety across a number of key areas.
The result is a report that provides clear indications about who needs safety development, in what areas they need it, and to what extent (i.e how much or how little additional training they need).
This means that mining companies can now tailor and refine their safety training and development programs depending on the specific needs of its employees, rather than a hit and miss blanket approach.
After recent testing, one of Australia’s largest mining companies demonstrated that employees identified as ‘high risk’ following the ten minute online safety assessment, were nearly five times more likely to be injured at work than ‘low risk’ employees.
In the study, 112 employees took the test and were then categorised into three separate groups:
High Risk – With safety scores in the bottom 20th percentile;
Average Risk – With scores between the 21st and 79th percentile; and
Low Risk – With scores equal to or above the 80th percentile.
The safety records of individuals in these groups were then analysed and it was discovered that compared to ‘low risk’ employees, staff categorised as ‘high risk’ had three times as many work accidents (such as falls, spills, and vehicular accidents), four times as many injuries at work that required medical treatment, and five times as many injuries at work that prevented them from working for a complete day or shift.
Given that an average workplace industry can cost up to $10 000 per individual, this has serious implications for a business.
Identifying high risk employees earlier can aid in avoiding situations such as those found during the planking craze.
At Santos’ South Australian operations, two employees were photographed planking on the top of 60 metre high smoke stacks, while wearing their hard hats and high vis work wear, of course.
Curtis stated that by carrying out the testing, companies are able to earlier identify employees that are high risk, while at the same time identifying staff whose attitudes help to set the company’s safety levels.
"By measuring existing employees you can create benchmarks, as well as metrics for what makes a good employee, and trend future safety levels.
"This way you can set the threshold, while allowing you to target people in the business who are in need of additional training, which aids in raising overall levels of work site safety," Curtis told Australian Mining.
These benchmark safety levels can also be used during recruitment.
"By first understanding the levels of safety needed for the role, a mining company is then able to add a more positive employee to the mix," she said.
However, while Curtis said "this is not a silver bullet for accidents on site, it is a step in reducing the number of safety incidents, and aid in future training and induction".