HVTC leads the way in risk management of apprentices and trainees

An innovative safety program that has reduced injury rates among apprentices has been nominated for a 2019 Hunter Safety Award.

HVTC is in the running for the Most Innovative WHS Idea (Large Organisation) Award, in recognition of industry-leading changes the company has made to its recruitment practices and safety management of employees.

Working in partnership with OPRA Psychology Group, HVTC implemented a Health and Safety Indicator (HSI) assessment to help inform recruitment decisions and provide clear direction for ongoing safety management and training.

The GeneSys HSI assesses a range of ability and personality characteristics, which have been shown to relate to safe behaviour in the workplace. This includes an individual’s capacity to understand and listen to instructions; attention to detail; understanding of safety; attitude towards adhering to rules; willingness to accept guidance and feedback and how they perceive and respond to safety hazards in their workplace.

According to HVTC Manager Human Resources & Safety, Executive, Janet Lee, one of the main drivers behind the project was that a large portion of HVTC’s employees are young, inexperienced and are placed with host employers in industrial and mining industries.

“This group is recognised as one of the highest risk demographics,” she said.

“Research shows that higher cognitive ability is associated with fewer accidents, lower accident mortality rates, fewer deliberate safety violations and lower accident risk. Putting this link to the test, we conducted a pilot study with an initial group of 89 apprentices where apprentices who scored as being ‘high risk’ on the HSI assessment accounted for approximately 80% of all safety and performance incidents.

“As a result of these findings, these apprentices received targeted training and coaching based on their results and within 12 months, HVTC achieved a 10% reduction in Lost Time Injury rates and a reduction of $130,000 in workers compensation premiums.

“Importantly, we identified the opportunity to incorporate the HSI into our pre-employment screening measures to identify high-risk behaviours among potential candidates.
“Many applicants for apprenticeships and traineeships are green, meaning they are commencing work in an industry they have little to no understanding of, including a lack of awareness of the potential safety hazards. It is therefore essential that we use tools like the HSI to identify potential unsafe behaviours before people are offered work in high risk environments.

“This information then becomes an important resource when assessing a candidate’s suitability for the role, in addition to helping improve safe behaviours among existing employees.”

Since using the HSI, data analysis has revealed that 75% of all accidents occurred between 2-8 months after commencing an apprenticeship, which resulted in HVTC increasing the frequency of monitoring visits within the first six months to provide greater support to the apprentice and their supervisor.

Ms Lee also said the study highlighted a close link between higher scores on the HSI and the likelihood of completing an apprenticeship.

“One of the key challenges facing the industry as a whole is keeping an apprentice engaged for the entire duration of their apprenticeship,” she said.

“Approximately 50% of apprentices will withdraw, typically during the first year of their apprenticeship. The results of the data analysis means we are now well informed of apprentices who may naturally be more likely to complete an apprenticeship and those who may require more support and coaching etc.

“Since implementing GeneSys HSI, we’ve managed to achieve a completion rate of 67% compared to a national industry average of 50%. The benefits of a completed apprentice extend to the broader community, so the more we can do to support apprentices, the better off we will be.

“This project would not have been possible without the support and expertise of the team at OPRA. We are both incredibly proud of this collaboration and honoured to be recognised as a finalist in the Hunter Safety Awards.” 

The 2019 Hunter Safety Awards will be held on Friday 15 March in Newcastle.

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