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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.

Mindfulness in a Hectic World

PSB Solutions - Thursday, November 03, 2016

Applying Mindfulness

The strategy to regain our connection to the present, is the practice of Mindfulness. Mindfulness focuses on maintaining awareness of your thoughts and inner self-talk, the way you feel, bodily sensations and what is happening around you.

Unlike what popular culture has made it out to be, mindfulness is not simply relaxing and staying in a state of Zen. Instead, mindfulness is a practice where people can learn to:

  • focus on the present moment;
  • improve their attentional skills; and
  • accept their thoughts and feelings without judgement (for example, if you feel frustrated, accept that you are frustrated but do so without judgement).

Mindfulness allows us to move from living on constant automatic pilot mode, to pausing and observing what is happening in the here and now. Learning to experience a mindful state requires time and effort to achieve. That being said, the amount of effort required is insignificant when compared to the plethora of potential benefits that mindfulness can provide. 

Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices have been associated with a number of different benefits. Here is just a small sample of the positive outcomes associated with mindfulness.  

  • Mindfulness has been shown to improve emotional regulation through decreasing rumination and improving attentional awareness (Davis & Hayes, 2011). Those who practice mindfulness also experience increased levels of empathy and compassion towards others.
  • Mindfulness has an association with improved mental health through reductions in anxiety, stress and depression (Schreiner & Malcolm, 2008).
  • Mindfulness has been found to improve interpersonal relationships through helping to protect against stressful relationship issues, improve one’s ability to express themselves and to improve overall relationship satisfaction (Davis & Hayes, 2011).
  • Mindfulness training in the workplace contributes to a reduction in emotional exhaustion and has also been found to improve job satisfaction (Hülsheger, Alberts, Feinholdt & Lang, 2013).

Becoming Mindful

The good news is that mindfulness can be practiced almost anywhere, which means there are many opportunities to practice in your day. From walking to the shops, eating a meal at home or even having a shower; each can be turned into a mindfulness experience to help you bring yourself into the here and now. One of the most common exercises to begin practicing mindfulness is through breathing awareness. Read the instructions below and give it a go.

  • Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down on your bed.
  • Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing. Try to focus on all the sensations you experience when you breathe that you may not notice normally.
  • Take a breath through your nose, and notice whether the air is cool or warm.
  • As you exhale through your mouth, also notice whether the air is cool or warm as it leaves your body.
  • As you continue to breathe in this way focus on the sounds in the room. Concentrate on the sounds most distant to you. Then refocus on the sounds closest to you, such as your breathing, and then finally your heat beat.
  • After you feel that you have achieved a mindful state remember to reflect on the experience before continuing on with your day. Slowly become aware of your surroundings before opening your eyes and taking in what is around you.
  • During this exercise if you became distracted or if your mind wanders, accept that you did non-judgementally, and ease yourself back into focusing on your breath.

Many people give up after getting distracted and do not realise that the very fact that they recognised they were distracted is being extremely mindful of what your thoughts are. Each time you recognise a distraction and bring focus back to breathing you are essentially exercising a muscle that will make entering a mindful state easier in the future.

Mindfulness is not the panacea to all of life’s concerns and issues, but with so many competing demands on us, it is a gentle reminder to stop and pay attention to the here and now.

References

Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48(2), 198-208. doi: 10.1037/a0022062

Hülsheger, U. R., Alberts, H. J., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. W. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: the role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology,98(2), 310-325. doi: 10.1037/a0031313

Schreiner, I., & Malcolm, J. P. (2008). The benefits of mindfulness meditation: Changes in emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Behaviour Change, 25(03), 156-168. doi: 10.1375/bech.25.3.156

Getting the Right Person for the Job

PSB Solutions - Monday, January 19, 2015

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 feel”. This approach can lead to good hiring decisions; it can also lead to the employee from hell. Psychometric Assessments, however, offer an objective assessment device 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.

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 success, when used in combination with interviews, reference checks, bio data and assessment centres (Schmidt and Hunter, 1998).

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. These are used to identify desirable traits required for the job (such as team work, stress management etc.).
  • Aptitude and ability assessments (graduate and manager level). These are used to provide insight into how well the candidate can manage the intellectual demands of the job position.
  • Career preferences. These are used to support decision making in terms of career development.
  • Values and motives. These are used to provide insight into how a person's values and motivations may impact their success within a job role.

If you would like to know more about how psychometric assessments can improve your selection and recruitment process, do not hesitate to give one of our friendly staff members a call on (08) 6272 3900.

References

1. Schmidt, F.L. and 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.

Great Parents at a Great Distance - Staying Connected

PSB Solutions - Thursday, October 30, 2014


Here are some tips on ways that you can stay involved in your children’s life even though you are  working away.


Stay in Touch

A study of 32 long distance families stressed that frequent contact was important for maintaining relationships1. Your family is only a phone call away, so try to avoid saving things up for when you are reunited, and take the time to spend a few minutes on the phone each night.

Even something small like a text message saying: “I love you” or “How are you?” once you’re back at your accommodation shows your kids that, even though you’re away, you are still thinking of and supporting them.


Stay Interested

A parent’s level of interest is incredibly important for a child at any age. A parent who does not show interest in their child’s life is not going to have the same relationship as one who shows that they are thinking about their child, interested in what is happening in their day, their hobbies and friendships. It is important while you’re away that you make an extra effort to remember significant events and dates such as school activities and birthdays, and remember to ask your children about them. It may help if you write important dates down as your kids talk about them. This can help you remember what to ask them about the next time you speak.

 

Kids love surprises!

Leave a little something behind under your children’s pillows; it could be a little note or an inexpensive gift that can mean a lot. A great tip for a surprise is to look online for businesses where you live and order goodies to be delivered to your house such as pizza for dinner. This is a great idea and it’s easy and creative; you can pay over the phone and it lets the kids know mum or dad is thinking of them.


Being “there” for your kids on you Rest & Restoration (R&R) break

It’s also very important to look after yourself while you’re on site, make sure you eat well, and get enough exercise and sleep. You want to have the energy for your family when you get back for your R&R and not feel burnt out.


Get with It!

If you have internet access, it’s definitely worth ‘getting with the technology’. There are plenty of ways to keep in the loop with what’s happening back home. Impress your kids by using the latest technology, the most popular internet communication sites at the moment are Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, to name a few.

E-cards are great if you don’t get the chance to send a card in the post for a special occasion. Another cheap and effective idea is to email photos, mini-films or newsletters to show your family what life is like away from home.

 

 References

  1. Gallegos, D (2006). Aero planes always come back: fly-in fly-out employment: managing the parenting transitions. Perth: Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University.

 

Managing Error in High Risk Industries Through Human Performance Improvement

PSB Solutions - Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Human error is an inevitable aspect of being human. Therefore, a proactive approach to error management is through the development of error tolerant systems. As quoted by James Reason, "It is now widely held among human reliability specialists that the most productive strategy for dealing with active errors is to focus upon controlling their consequences rather than upon striving for their elimination” (Reason, p. 246). Download our presentation on 'Managing Error in High Risk Industries through Human Performance Improvement' here to find out more. 

Decision Making, Safety, and Cognitive Biases

PSB Solutions - Thursday, July 10, 2014

On May 10th, 1996 five mountain climbers were caught in a blizzard and died on Mount Everest during their summit attempt. Two of the climbers were world-renowned mountaineers, both having extensive experience at climbing in high altitude. Another had guided nearly forty climbers to the summit over the previous six years. There was no single explanation as to why such experienced climbers died; rather it was the interaction between several wrong decisions made on the day. The climbers chose to ignore the weather warning, as there had been no severe spring storm in several years. They chose not to turn around, despite failure to reach the summit by 2:00pm, as they had invested too much time and money. Lastly, as all were experienced climbers, they were over confident and underestimated their chances of trouble.

You may begin to question how these expert leaders and mountain climbers could make such misguided decisions that lead to a catastrophic end. However, misguided decisions are more common than you think – we make them and experience the effects of them frequently. 

As it takes a great amount of energy to consciously work through different possibilities and make a decision, we normally use subconscious short cuts. These short cuts help us to cope with complexity and manage new information by aligning it with past similar information. Though such short cuts often work well, they can also lead us to make the wrong decisions. These impairments in judgement are called cognitive biases and they arise automatically in decision making processes. 

Cognitive Biases for Safety Leaders

It is not uncommon for safety leaders to make decisions without complete consideration of cognitive biases and how they affect decision making. However, given that safety leaders are in charge of making critical decisions, it is important that they understand and appreciate the role cognitive biases play in their decision making. Cognitive biases can cause leaders to underestimate the risks that may be present or overestimate the capability of safety systems to manage hazards. One small wrong decision may be insignificant by itself, but a series of small wrong decisions can create a path to disaster.

Some types of cognitive bias common in the workplace safety context that safety leaders should be aware of are: 
  1. Recency bias: the tendency to focus on information that is most recent and thus easiest to remember. This type of bias can arise when making crucial safety decisions in workplace safety.
    e.g. A company may have experienced no accidents in the last 2 years, and because of recency bias, safety leaders may use this information to inform their decision to place less effort on safety operations in future.
  2. Attribution bias: the tendency to believe one’s own success is due to ability rather than to surrounding factors, while the success of others is due to their surrounding factors, rather than their personal ability. 
    e.g. A worker is injured on site. The safety leader may attribute this injury to the worker’s carelessness, rather than the potential flaws of the safety management system in place.
  3. Overconfidence bias: the tendency to over-estimate one’s abilities and knowledge. This bias can be dangerous in high risk situations. 
    e.g. Safety leaders may believe that because they have been managing safety within the company for many years without any incidents, all future safety decisions should be made by them. 
  4. Confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret and remember information in such a way that confirms one’s existing views over those that challenge them. 
    e.g. A safety leader may believe that his team operates safely, therefore will search for information that confirms this notion, while ignoring any information that opposes it.

Dealing with Cognitive Bias

The unfortunate truth is that we are unable to completely de-activate or ignore cognitive biases. What we can do is manage them, and reduce the influence that they have on our decision making process.
By using the following strategies, we can ensure that our decisions are well informed and as free from bias as possible:
  1. Improve awareness and understanding of cognitive biases: If you are aware of the cognitive biases that exist, you are less likely to let them influence your decision making. One strategy to promote awareness is to use a case study activity. Think of a tragedy that has resulted from human error (e.g. the Gretley mining disaster, the Challenger shuttle disaster) and focus on the cognitive biases that might have played a contributing role.
  2. Check assumptions and actively seek disconfirming evidence: Intentionally seeking information to determine if your assumptions are wrong can lead to more effective decision making. If you believe that your team operates safely, check this assumption by looking for information available that may contradict this notion.
  3. Collaborate with colleagues or management: When making critical safety decisions, team up with other people during the decision making process. It is always easier to identify cognitive biases in others, and in turn, other people can lead you to view information in a different light.
  4. Review your past work: Write down all the important decisions you have made in the past year and try to identify if any cognitive biases may have played a role. Understanding what cognitive biases normally impact your decisions can help you be more aware of them cropping up the next time you make similar decisions.

How PSB Solutions Can Help

PSB Solutions understand human behaviour and the influence of cognitive biases in safety-related decision making. PSB Solutions can assist your organisation by providing Safety Leadership and Front-line Leadership Development workshops that deal with human factors and the errors that may arise in decision making.  For more information, or if you would like to discuss what you’ve read today, please contact us on (08) 6272 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au.

References and Further Reading: 

Campbell, M. P. (2010). Battling Cognitive Bias. The Stepping Stones, 38.
Krause, T. R. (2005). Leading with Safety. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Roberto, M. A. (2002). Lessons from Everest: The interaction of cognitive bias, psychological safety and system complexity. California Management Review, 45.

Safety Culture Frameworks

PSB Solutions - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Successful organisations rely on building a culture of safety in the workplace, in which everyone collectively strives to achieve.  A strong safety culture is one in which safety is valued and prioritised within an organisation, and there is a real commitment to safety at all levels, even when no one is watching.   

I already have systems in place.  Why do I need a safety culture?

Research has shown that a Safety Management System (SMS) incorporating workplace inspections, policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities, cannot achieve safe performance alone.  In fact, without a safety culture even the best designed systems will fail.  For example, if a person believes that safety is not important, then they are likely to cut corners, or make unsafe decisions or judgements, especially when the perceived risk of harm is small.  Therefore, an organisation’s safety culture has a direct impact on safe performance, and is important in understanding why systems fail or succeed. 

How can I build a strong safety culture?

The safety culture of an organisation is the product of the people’s values, beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, and commitment towards safety.  Building a safety culture is not as easy as calling a meeting and saying, “Ok, now we’re going to have a strong safety culture.”  What you can do is create a framework that guides your organisation towards achieving a strong safety culture and defines the behaviours of each member of your organisation.

Building your framework

First, you need to define what a safety culture looks like in your organisation.  Psychologist James Reason’s (1998; 2000) framework suggests that building a strong safety culture consists of combining five cultures, including (1) an informed culture, (2) a reporting culture, (3) a just culture, (4) a flexible culture, and (5) a learning culture.

In an informed culture there is a level of awareness by those who manage and operate the organisation on factors such as people, jobs, and the workplace environment that could impact safe performance.  In an informed culture the organisation collects, analyses, and disseminates safety information such as near-misses and errors. 

In a reporting culture there is an atmosphere in which people have the willingness and confidence to report any safety concerns (such as near-misses and errors) without any fear of blame.  It is important in a reporting culture people know that the confidentiality of their information will be maintained, and the information they submit will be acted upon.  Otherwise, people may decide that there is no benefit in reporting.      

Similar to a reporting culture, a just culture is where reporting safety concerns are encouraged with an emphasis on learning rather than blame.  For example, in a just culture a person performing an unsafe act will not be punished if their act was unintentional.  However, it is important to understand that having a “no-blame” culture is not possible.  For example, a person who acts recklessly or takes a deliberate risk should be subject to disciplinary action.  Therefore, in a just culture people still need to be aware of what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour. 

In a flexible culture the organisation and its people are capable of adapting effectively to changing demands.  Such adaptability is an important feature of organisations striving towards a strong safety culture.

Finally, an organisation must have a learning culture, in which they are able to analyse safety data, draw the right conclusions, learn from mistakes, and act upon recommendations. 

Defining your behaviours

To complete your safety culture framework, it is important to define what behaviours are required at every level of your organisation, so that each member knows what they need to do as part of that culture.  There are a number of ways all levels in the organisation can contribute to building a strong safety culture.  At the managerial level, these are:

  • Communicating safety and health related information to everyone.
  • Being honest.
  • Communicating the organisation’s vision.
  • Implementing safety and health related solutions.
  • Providing safety and health related training for everyone.
  • Being visibly committed towards safety.
  • Avoiding silos through poor communication channels.
  • Being just and holding people accountable for non-acceptable behaviour.
  • Confronting the inherent risks within their operations.
  • Taking part in systems such as risk assessments and inspections.

At the supervisory level, these are:

  • Encouraging upward communication.
  • Reinforcing the team on safe performance by providing feedback.
  • Learning from mistakes.
  • Listening to the team’s safety concerns and managers, and providing feedback.
  • Actively involving the team to participate in safety.
  • Encouraging team collaboration.
  • Sharing responsibility for non-acceptable behaviour.
  • Promoting risk awareness in the team.
  • Taking part in systems such as risk assessments and inspections.

At all levels in the organisation, everyone can contribute to building a strong safety culture.  These are:

  • Speaking up to raise health and safety concerns.
  • Listening to safety and health related information.
  • Reporting errors, near-misses and incidents.
  • Suggesting safety and health related solutions.
  • Accepting feedback.
  • Actively participating in safety.
  • Taking responsibility for non-acceptable behaviour.
  • Being mindful of risks and stopping work if the job is unsafe.

An example of combining the elements of your safety culture framework and defining behaviours might look like this:

 

Management

Supervisors

Everyone

Supporting Safety Systems

Learning Culture

Implement solutions, Provide training, Be prepared, Know your risks

Learn from mistakes, Listen to the experts, Provide feedback

Report errors, Suggest solutions, Accept feedback

Reporting systems, Behaviour Based Safety, Mentors


What are the benefits of a safety culture framework?

The benefits of incorporating a safety culture framework go way beyond reducing compensation claims, insurance premiums, decreasing absence from work, and reducing fines and lawsuits.  A safety culture framework also:

  • Creates clarity at all levels in the organisation on how to achieve a strong safety culture.
  • Creates a common safety language throughout the organisation, which aids in building a strong safety culture.
  • Allows for the integration of an existing Safety Management System (SMS) and a Human Resources System.  For example, performance management systems can include behaviours from a safety culture framework.
  • Allows for any gaps in a Safety Management System to be identified and managed.
  • Can be given to independent contractors to support their own efforts in improving their own health and safety.  This allows for contractor led initiatives to complement the organisation’s safety culture.  

References

Ardern, J. (2012). Creating a safety culture. Accessed on January 2nd, 2013 from

http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/Worksafe/PDF/Forums/safety_culture-Jane_.pdf.

Reason, J. (1998). Achieving a safe culture: Theory and practice. Work & Stress, 12(3), 293-306.

Reason, J. (2000). Human error: Models and management. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 320(7237), 768.

Van der Graaf, G., & Hudson, P. (2002). Hearts and Minds: The status after 15 years research. In SPE International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production.

Recommended Readings

Cooper, M. D. (2000). Towards a model of safety culture. Safety Science, 36(2), 111-136.

Golda, E. O. (2013). Framework for developing and sustaining sound safety culture in a developing economy. European Journal of Natural and Applied Sciences, 1(1), 28-37.





Mindful Culture

PSB Solutions - Monday, December 09, 2013

A mindful safety culture is one that is perceptive to danger, acknowledges that there are risks involved in people’s jobs, knows what these risks are, and is sensitive to warning signs. In a mindful culture, personnel at all levels are acutely aware that the best systems can fail, and this mindset is reflected in their beliefs and actions. 

Mindful cultures were researched by Weick and Sutcliffe with their ground breaking work on ‘High Reliability Organisations’ (HROs) – high-risk organisations that maintain a high standard of safety over time, in part due to their commitment to a mindful safety culture.

A mindful culture has five key traits:

Preoccupation with failure

To be preoccupied with failure means to be continuously seeking out problems and focussing on areas of past failure. Some organisations may see this as paranoia, whereas others see it as a necessity for reducing the frequency and likelihood of errors occurring in the future. These organisations encourage personnel to report, examine and discuss errors and near misses to gain understanding and make changes to prevent them from occurring again. Mindful organisations are constantly alert and working to fight complacency, the temptation to reduce safety statistics and the risks of personnel running on autopilot.

Reluctance to simplify

A successfully mindful organisation refuses to simplify work processes. This concept may sound like the organisation is creating more work, particularly in a world where we are trying to make work tasks more efficient and reliable. However, what “reluctance to simplify” means is refusing to over-simplify explanations or interpretations of what has occurred in the past and what may happen in the future. These organisations have systems and resources in place that encourage the ongoing collection and interpretation of data to search for trends.

Sensitivity to operations

A sensitivity to operations is a constant awareness from both the leadership team and personnel on the current state of processes and systems within the organisation. Maintaining awareness and sensitivity ensures that issues are noticed and events can be prevented. The organisation realises that all personnel involved need to have a shared and accurate understanding of operations to assist in predicting future states. This is achieved through employees providing leaders with accurate and current information regarding operations. A culture must exist where not only good news is reported, but individuals are not afraid or hesitant to report bad news. The accuracy of the information reported will help the organisation to determine their current reality, identify the gaps, and thus be able to prioritise responsibilities.

Commitment to resilience

Resilience is the ability to return to one’s original state after being placed in a stressful situation. Mindful organisations committed to resilience pay close attention to their ability to effectively manage errors and recover swiftly. A commitment to resilience is about understanding that recovery from a problem is equally as important as the prevention of the issue. This means that organisations need to consider that if something goes wrong, do the systems, processes and tools in place assist or hinder their recovery process? If they do hinder recovery, what can be done to make them more effective in the management of error in future?

Deference to expertise

In a mindful organisation, a culture exists where all personnel and leaders will defer to individuals with the greatest knowledge, experience, and understanding of the issue being addressed. This does not mean that this person has all the necessary information in order to respond to the issue, but enables the team to make more precise choices based on the person with the greatest level of expertise. This opens up communication and ensures that the process flows more smoothly, enabling all areas of potential failure to be explored.

How can PSB Solutions help?

Reaching the state of a mindful culture can seem quite daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start. PSB Solutions can assist your organisation by creating a step-by-step plan towards achieving this goal. PSB Solutions understands and recognises that change does not happen overnight, but comes as a result of an effective process involving feedback and openness from personnel. We offer a consultative approach to organisations, assisting in the development and implementation of culture change in regards to safety. For more information, or if you would like to have a discussion regarding what you’ve read today, please contact us on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au.


Selecting Safe Workers – Not As Easy As You Think

PSB Solutions - Monday, August 05, 2013

Have you ever thought safety on site wouldn’t be an issue if you could just avoid hiring those few ‘bad apples’? Can you use psychometric or selection assessments to hire safe workers?

There is a growing body of research examining the relationship between individual traits and incident involvement. The aim of this research is to determine whether some employees are simply “accident-prone” or more likely to take risks on the job and whether or not you can spot these people early in the recruitment process. While many will assure you that this is possible, empirical research suggests that there isn’t a ‘quick fix’.

You have safety signs around your workplace. Your employees are reminded that safety is a top priority and they go through a thorough induction process, and yet, you feel like the safety in your workplace could be improved. Or perhaps you’re sick of meeting with the same people to remind them of the organisation’s commitment to safety. Are there individuals who are just prone to being unsafe in the workplace? Is it to do with their personality?

Personality and safety behaviours

Personality is the relatively stable set of attitudes and behaviours that make up an individual’s character. The Big Five model of personality is the most common framework used to classify personality traits, so named because it groups all personality traits into five main dimensions. These dimensions are:

  • Openness to experience
    • A tendency to appreciate art and adventure and to be creative and curious.
  • Conscientiousness
    • A tendency to meet deadlines, be self-disciplined and goal-oriented.
  • Extroversion
    • A tendency to engage in the external world with energy and vitality.
  • Agreeableness
    • A tendency to be kind and cooperative with others.
  • Neuroticism (or emotionality)
    • A tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, depression or anger.

In a large review of organisations, researchers found that individuals low in agreeableness (people who tend to be less concerned with others’ well-being) were more likely to be involved in occupational incidents. Similarly, those low in conscientiousness (people who tend to be laid-back and less goal-oriented) were also more likely to be involved in incidents in the workplace. There have not been consistent relationships between other personality traits and workplace accidents. 

Products on the market

Does this research mean that you can select employees with the right personality for high-risk workplaces? The answer is not really.

There are a number of products on the market advertising that they can detect unsafe workers. Some use weak links between the research into personality and accident involvement to determine whether employees will be unsafe in the workplace. The problem with this approach is that the research into personality traits and incident involvement is not particularly conclusive. A lot of research involves non-occupational accidents, such as traffic accidents, that are likely to be influenced by different factors. Research is also yet to identify why these people are more likely to be involved in incidents. Other products ask employees to self-report their own safety behaviours. This approach also has its issues, such as employees lying or answering the way they think they are supposed to answer.

In addition, the organisational culture of your workplace will affect how an individual behaves, so this is an important aspect to consider. For example, a generally rule-following employee is unlikely to don a hard-hat if no-one else in the organisation is modelling that behaviour. There is a dynamic interplay between individual’s behaviour and organisational culture.

If you are considering using a safety selection product, it is important to determine whether these products are based on empirical evidence, otherwise you may just be wasting your money. Some questions to ask are:

  • Is the product reliable? Are people likely to get a similar result under consistent situations?
  • Is the product valid? Does it predict unsafe workers or incident involvement?
  • Has the product been validated in your industry? Different industries are likely to have different safety requirements so it is important to check whether it has been endorsed for use in your industry.
  • Do they offer a consultation to assess your specific safety behaviour requirements? Every organisation is different, so assessing your specific needs is vital.

How PSB Solutions can help organisations with creating safe workplaces

PSB Solutions can help you to navigate the difficult process of deciding whether psychometric assessment is right for you. At PSB Solutions, evidence-based practice is our creed. We provide our clients with strategies that are scientifically proven to deliver positive outcomes in safety performance. We offer a consultative approach to organisational safety that incorporates selection and induction processes as well as safety climate assessment and development.

By using a holistic approach to selection and induction processes, leadership behaviours, policy reviews, training, performance management, and monitoring of organisational health via our Workforce Climate Indicator and Blue Pulse Safety Climate surveys, we can make your organisation safer and more productive.

If you would like to know more about our safety assessment services, give us a call on (08) 9489 3900 or email us at info@psbsolutions.com.au

Reading list

Clarke, S. & Robertson, I.T. (2005) A meta-analytic review of the Big Five personality factors and accident involvement in occupational and non-occupational settings, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78, 355-376.

Does Behaviour Based Safety Really Work?

PSB Solutions - Thursday, June 06, 2013

At PSB Solutions, evidence-based practice is our creed. We provide our clients with strategies that are scientifically proven to deliver positive outcomes in safety performance.  Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) is one such strategy. Although BBS has advocates and critics, its positive influence on safety performance is significant. This is highlighted through a number of studies that have examined the effectiveness of BBS programs and shown that they lead to significant safety performance improvements1. One study in particular examined three petroleum refinery sites that had implemented a BBS program over a 20 year period2. At the end of the study the following improvements were observed across the three refinery sites: 

  • an 81% decrease in recordable incidents;
  • a 79% decrease in lost-time incidents;  and
  • a 97% savings in annual workers compensation costs over an eight-year period.


These statistics considered, a BBS program will only succeed if the organisation is committed and the culture is ready. BBS is most likely to succeed when leadership is committed, personnel are engaged with the program’s objectives and there are effective feedback processes.

Here are key best-practice guidelines that any well designed BBS program should comprise to drive positive outcomes in safety:

  1. An initial safety climate assessment to gauge cultural readiness for the implementation of a BBS program. If the culture is not ready for a BBS program, as indicated by mistrust of management and poor team functioning, the BBS program will fail.
  2. Commitment and involvement of the leadership team in the program. If the leadership team is not committed to providing the resources (in terms of time to conduct observations and training to support personnel in their observation skills) the BBS program will suffer.
  3. Ongoing training that upskill personnel in their observation and feedback skills, which further serves to create buy-in to the program.  
  4. The development of a comprehensive behaviour checklist that defines key safe behaviours linked to the prevention of incidents and injuries.
  5. The provision of comprehensive and ongoing safety observation training.
  6. Observations conducted on a regular basis.
  7. Analysis of BBS observation data that highlights key areas for improvement and strength.
  8. Personnel receiving feedback directly after an observation and also at a group level where trends are highlighted and discussed.
  9. Team acknowledgement of participation and engagement in the BBS program.
  10. Nomination of a steering committee group/champions of the BBS program that internally supports observations, trending, analysis and feedback.

If you have any questions, or think your organisation can benefit from a BBS Program, contact PSB Solutions, the BBS specialists.

References

  1. Krause, T. R., Seymour, K. J., & Sloat, K.C.M. (1999). Long-term evaluation of a behaviour based method for improving safety performance: A meta-analysis of 73 interrupted time-series replications. Safety Science, 32, 1-18.
  2. Myers, W. V., McSween, T. E., Medina, R. E., Rost, K., & Alvero, A. M. (2010). The implementation and maintenance of a behavioural safety process in a petroleum refinery. Journal of Organisational Behaviour. 4, 285-307.

 

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.