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The Thinking Cap

Tips, tricks and solutions from the team at PSB Solutions. We offer solutions in regards to people, safety, and business.

Psychology of Safety

PSB Solutions - Thursday, April 18, 2013

Do you feel you have a complete understanding of how human behaviour influences safety? Do you feel you have the ability to positively influence safety conversations? Do you have difficulty overcoming the common challenges faced by many safety professionals?

Understanding the human factors underpinning safety can be the difference between a good safety professional and an exceptional safety professional.

Whether you are new to the safety industry or highly experienced, understanding the psychological principles of safety will enable you to be more effective and influential in your role.

What is the Role of Psychology in Safety?

Psychology is the study of human behaviour, and safety is about behaviour. There is considerable evidence that links human factors with workplace incidents. Therefore, it is imperative that the human aspects of safety are addressed when seeking to improve overall safety performance.

In safety, it is important to have the skills to motivate people to work safely and prevent them from engaging in unsafe behaviours. Safety performance can only be improved if safety professionals and leaders are able to motivate, influence, and promote the right mindset in people.

                                

 

Exceptional Safety Professionals

Safety professionals who are able to apply psychological principles to their role are better equipped to improve safety outcomes and personal effectiveness.

To be effective as safety professionals, it is imperative to understand:

  • human behaviour and the human factors present within all organisations;
  • how personnel relate to and with the organisational systems that are in place;
  • the importance of high level communication and engagement between all levels of an organisation;
  • providing feedback, both to management and frontline personnel; and
  • how to facilitate change successfully.

When understanding safety it is important to examine both the behaviours and attitudes that lead to incidents and the behaviours and attitudes that can prevent and manage incidents.

How Can PSB Solutions Help?

PSB Solutions offers a ‘Psychology of Safety for Safety Advisers’ workshop aimed at providing safety professionals with an understanding of the psychological principles behind behaviour change and improvement.

This workshop is ideal for safety advisers, students studying safety, and anyone wanting to enhance or complement their current skill set.

The key objectives of the two day Psychology of Safety for Safety Advisers workshop are to provide safety advisers with an understanding of:

  • situational awareness;
  • safety culture;
  • behaviour based safety;
  • safety leadership;
  • communication, feedback and influence tactics; and
  • how to overcome the common challenges faced by many safety professionals.

If you would like to know more about PSB Solutions’ ‘Psychology of Safety for Safety Advisers’ workshop, please call us on (08) 9489 3900 or visit our Workshop page.

News: Updated Brochures and Branding

PSB Solutions - Monday, March 25, 2013

PSB has new brochures and branding!

If you’ve received an email or business card from us lately, you might notice that we’re sporting a new logo and colour design. We’re also excitedly working on redesigning our website to fit the new theme, which we’re planning to launch in the near future.

We’ve also produced a new series of brochures showcasing our product suite. They’re available for download in PDF format - alternatively, you can send us an email at info@psbsolutions.com.au and we’ll be happy to send out an information pack to you.

You can download our brochures below:

An Introduction to PSB Solutions (899kb)

Blue Pulse Safety Climate Survey
 (156kb)

Psychometric Assessments (164kb)

Behaviour-Based Safety for Employees (164kb)

Behaviour-Based Safety for Leaders (182kb)

Fatigue Management Essentials (175kb)

Frontline Leadership Workshop (181kb)

Safety Leadership Development Program (511kb)

Introduction to Safety Leadership (188kb)

The Psychology of Safety for Safety Advisors (282kb)

The Psychology of Stress One-Day Workshop (192kb)

The Psychology of Stress Seminar Series (227kb)

Define and Develop Your Safety Culture (180kb)

Managing the Fatigue of Staff (175kb)

We'd love to hear from you on (08) 9489 3900 if you'd like more information.

Thanks to Mark at Razoreye Design for our new look.

Shift Worker Fatigue - Disturbing your Circadian Rhythm

PSB Solutions - Wednesday, March 20, 2013

                                              

Interest in the effects of shift work on employees has increased as it has become a common feature across many work fields including the health and resource sectors. Shift work affects health and performance by disrupting circadian rhythms and causing numerous alterations in human behaviour and physiology. Disturbing our natural circadian rhythms can have serious implications for both the brain and body. The levels of fatigue experienced by shift workers can be attributed to this disturbance.

The Circadian Rhythm

Our circadian rhythm is effectively an internal clock that drives our levels of alertness throughout the day, and interestingly, is wound by Earth’s rotation. The 24-hour cycle, tied to one turn of the planet on its axis, creates an internal biological clock mimicked by timepieces invented to measure the day (Cromie, 1999). These circadian rhythms are important in determining our sleep patterns. The body’s master clock that controls our circadian rhythms consists of a group of nerve cells in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. The master clock controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Since it is located just above the optic nerves, which relay information from the eyes to the brain, the SCN receives information about incoming light. When there is less light—at night for example—the SCN tells the brain to make more melatonin to make you drowsy. As light is the main signal influencing our circadian rhythms, it contributes to a release of hormones that control our internal clocks.

Disturbing Your Circadian Rhythm

When it comes to sleeping, our circadian rhythm determines that most of us tend to be asleep by midnight, wake near dawn, and stay awake throughout the day, which means that not all times of the day are favourable for sleeping. There are “forbidden zones” for sleep between 8am-12noon and 5pm-9pm where it can be more difficult to get to sleep (Wood, 2012). Furthermore, alertness and capability vary with the time of day, with two low points occurring between the zones of 3am and 5am, and again between 3pm and 5pm.

Given our natural tendencies to sleep at particular times and stay awake at other times, it is no surprise that shift work has a significant impact on workers circadian rhythms. Shift work causes the de-synchronisation of our work and sleep patterns with these different “zones”. Such de-synchrony leads to reduced alertness, increased experiences of fatigue, mood changes, gastric problems and disturbances in eating habits which can contribute to weight gain (M.Gibbs, 2005). Research indicates that the degree of fatigue that shift-workers encounter depends on the schedule that is being worked, but is generally most severe on night shifts and during shifts that start early in the morning (Turek, 2004). Research has also found that, compared with day shifts, evening and night shifts are associated with higher health and safety risks and reduced productivity. These findings are all during times when our circadian rhythms are telling our bodies to be asleep. When we are not doing this, we are not giving our body appropriate time to rest and restore itself – thus increasing our chances of experiencing high levels of fatigue.

Tips for Managing Fatigue in Shift Workers

The following are some tips for optimising roster or shift schedules to help manage the fatigue of workers:

  • Direct the rotation of shifts forward (morning/afternoon/night) as the body can adapt to going to bed later as opposed to earlier and there is more rest between shifts.
  • For shift changes, a faster rotation of 2-3 days may minimise sleep debt accrued from working long stretches of night shift and causes the least amount of body clock adjustment.
  • Roster design should take into account that individuals require at least 7-8 hours sleep per 24 hour period.
  • The finishing time of night shifts should be planned to avoid heavy traffic periods in order to minimise the likelihood of accidents (Minesafe, 2006).
  • Shift starts should be avoided between midnight and 6am to ensure adequate rest.
  • Determine shift length based on the mental and physical load of the job. For example, where work pressure is high, shorter shifts may be preferable over the standard eight our shift.

PSB Solutions’ Fatigue Management Programs

PSB Solutions provides Fatigue Management training that is informed by the latest research in psychology. PSB Solutions have Fatigue Management programs aimed at non-supervisory employee levels, as well as at supervisors and above.

If you would like to know more about how your employees’ fatigue can be better managed, or about PSB Solutions’ Fatigue Management services please call us on (08) 9489 3900 – we’re here to help.

References:

Cromie, W. J. (1999, July 15). Human Biological Clock Set Back an Hour. The Harvard Gazette.

M.Gibbs, S. H. (2005). Effect of shift schedule on offshore shiftworkers' circadian rhythm and health. Guildford: The University of Surrey.

Minesafe. (2006). Hours of Work and Fatigue.

Turek, F. W. (2004). Melatonin, sleep, and circadian rhythms: rationale for development of specific melatonin agents. Sleep Medicine, 523-532.

Wood, H. (2012). Fatigue and its Relationship to Roster Cycle Length. Australian Pipeline Industry Association. TMS Consulting.

The Impact of Stress on your Health and the Workplace

PSB Solutions - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

                               

Given that most individuals spend a significant amount of their time at work, it is important to consider the impact of work on their health and wellbeing. Individuals who experience high levels of job satisfaction typically tend to report higher perceptions of their health and wellbeing. Conversely, for those who perceive lower levels of job satisfaction; work can be considered a major source of stress.

Stress associated with work typically arises from misalignment between an individual’s skill-set or knowledge with their work tasks and demands. Other contributing factors are generally a result of the interaction between people and/or systems in the work environment. Indeed, a recent survey found that 30 per cent of the Australian population are stressed due to work1. Besides the effect on our physical and mental health, stress also has a detrimental financial impact on organisations. Estimates suggest that workplace stress costs Australian employers $10.1 billion a year due to lost productivity and absenteeism2.  It is important to consider how the impact of stress to both individual wellbeing and organisational productivity can be minimised.

What is Stress?

Stress refers to the way we evaluate and cope with threats and challenges in our environment. Interestingly, stress is caused more by the way we evaluate or perceive threats than the threats themselves. For example, a promotion at work may be seen by some individuals as an exciting opportunity; whilst others may be overwhelmed by a fear of failure in their new role (see Figure 1 below). When we perceive stressful events as a challenge, these stressors can motivate us to work a little harder and are largely positive. However, when we see threat as a negative, a variety of adverse consequences can occur (e.g. panic, anxiety etc.).

 

 

       

 Figure 1. Evaluating Stressful Events

 
What is the Impact of Stress on our Health?

When experiencing stress, the human body goes into overdrive. A flood of chemicals and hormones are released that boost energy, tense our muscles and dull our sensitivity to pain to help us cope with the perceived challenge at hand. In the short term, these reactions can be beneficial because they help us to cope with challenges in our environment. Extended periods of stress, however, can lead to a host of adverse health outcomes such as anxiety, heart disease, hypertension, migraines, peptic ulcers and broader mental health concerns3. Thus, the impact of stress, from a minor headache or illness to more long term health problems, can significantly impact our quality of life, including our work performance.

Managing Stress

Given that stress can have a significant impact on our performance, satisfaction and productivity in the workplace, it is important to ensure that it is appropriately managed. Fortunately, stress can be controlled and reduced. Typically, stress management involves consideration of individual’s personal attributes and natural capacity to handle pressure and stress as well as consideration of the work conditions and factors contributing towards stress.

At PSB Solutions we offer stress management strategies, based on best practice psychological research, which can help your employees understand, manage and work with stress. Our strategies can be provided as a tailor-made or packaged course, covering a variety of topics such as:

  • causes of stress at work;
  • psychological and physiological  reactions to stress;
  • practical tools to reduce stress;
  • how communication styles influences stress;
  • assertive communication training;
  • managing systems to minimise stress; and
  • dealing with rapid change.

If you would like to know more about how your employees’ stress can be better managed, or about PSB Solutions’ Psychology of Stress Workshop, please contact us at +61 8 9489 3900 or info@psbsolutions.com.au

References and Further Reading

  1. The Australian Psychological Society (APS; 2011). Stress and wellbeing in Australia in 2011: A state of the nation survey. APS: Melbourne.
  2. Medibank Private (2008). The cost of workplace stress in Australia. Medibank Private: Melbourne.
  3. Seaward, B. L. (2005). Managing stress: Principles and strategies for health and well-being. Jones and Bartlett: Boston.

Why Psychometric Assessments Are Vital For Your Business

PSB Solutions - Wednesday, January 09, 2013

For many people, hiring staff can be a hit and miss affair. Maybe you interview your candidate, speak to their old managers and - more than you’d like to admit - you listen to your gut feelings. This approach can lead to good hiring decisions; on the flip side, it can also lead to the employee from hell. To assist in making more objective hiring decisions, psychometric assessments offer an objective tool that allows you to assess potential candidates on a range of relevant abilities and personal characteristics, and compare them against a large pool of similar individuals.

What are Psychometric Assessments?

Although HR professionals use a number of innovative techniques to identify potential high-performers, some of these techniques can introduce unintended bias into the recruitment process. To eliminate the potential for bias, psychologists developed personality and ability assessments that assess candidates on a standard set of questions that are statistically refined and validated. These assessments are effective because they standardise the way a candidate’s abilities and personality are evaluated, allowing for a more objective and meaningful comparison of their results to a similar reference population (e.g. graduate engineers).

Why use Psychometric Assessments?

In a fast-changing and increasingly competitive market place, selecting, developing and retaining the best talent is vital for long-term success. Likewise, avoiding the costs associated with hiring the wrong candidate is also important. To ensure the best available talent is being hired, more and more businesses are using psychometric assessments to guide their recruitment process. The reason for this is simple: psychology research consistently shows that abilities assessments are a strong predictor of future job success1, when used in combination with interviews, reference checks, bio data and assessment centres.

The Assessments

To assess candidates’ potential performance, and to identify the most talented individuals already working for you, PSB Solutions offer a series of assessments that can be utilised and customised to the specific job type and organisational culture. PSB Solutions' assessment suite includes:

  • Personality assessments.
  • Aptitude and ability assessment (graduate level).
  • Aptitude and ability assessment (manager level).
  • Career preferences.
  • Values and motives.

At PSB Solutions, we’re looking forward to what 2013 will bring. If you’d like to make 2013 the year you maximise your recruitment and development processes, we are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss how psychometric assessments can assist your business.

References and Further Reading

  1. Schmidt, F. L. & Hunter, J.E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 142, 262-274.