A robust assessment solution for risk and safety measurement

As we’ve discussed in other articles, a growing concern for many organizations is that of hiring and cultivating talent that is dependable and safe. Aligned with this need, especially in industries such as manufacturing, mining, and aviation, is the requirement of safety-conscious behavior, in other words, the likelihood of a candidate’s behaviors promoting safety for themselves and their co-workers.

In this article, we will take a closer look at one of TTS’s best-of-breed risk and safety solutions that have been developed by our global assessment partner, Aon Assessments.

Behavior drives risk

One of the key reasons why assessments are so vital for risk and safety inside any organization is that behavior drives risk. Although there are multiple environmental factors that can reduce risk (e.g. ergonomic design, regular maintenance of critical machinery, etc), all risk and safety hazards ultimately refer back to human operators and human decision-making.

And while the growing field of AI application in industry may well lead to less human involvement, it will likely never completely remove the human factor in safety and risk-related work.

As a result, managers and talent professionals who want to reduce the risk of workplace safety incidents will need to focus carefully on the types of behavior (and abilities) that predict risky behavior.

A well-developed, scientifically credible model of risk and safety-related behavior is a critical first step in achieving this goal.

The Aon risk and safety model

TTS’s assessment partner, Aon Assessments have developed a comprehensive empirical model of safety and risk behavior based not only on their extensive experience in global assessments but also on research conducted by Aon’s global risk and safety research division. This unit has access to millions of insurance claim information that details not only typical risk and safety-related claims, but also the likely reasons behind such incidents.

Based on this unique combination of IO Psychology research and big data analysis of insurance claims, Aon has derived an assessment-ready model that predicts how individuals’ behavior and abilities shape and predict safety risk.

At its core, the Aon risk and safety model has two main behavioral components:

  • Impulse Control: The likelihood of a person resisting the temptation of engaging in counterproductive behaviors that have negative downstream consequences, despite being immediately gratifying.
  • Ethical Awareness: The capacity to rationally analyze situations by weighing morality, consistency, and how one’s actions affect other people.

These behavioral components are assessed using Aon’s award-winning workplace personality measure, the ADEPT-15.

In addition to these behavioral considerations, the Aon model also includes key abilities that predict whether a candidate will have the required cognitive abilities to operate heavy machinery in a safe manner. These abilities include multi-tasking, sense of direction, adaptive memory, spatial memory, ability to concentrate, and reaction speed. All of these cognitive abilities are measured using the innovative series of tests developed by cut-e (now an Aon company).

Empirical validation of the risk and safety model

Based on the above, Aon has conducted several scientific investigations of risk and safety behaviors to validate the model.

Global, high-volume assessment studies using the behavioral model and ADEPT-15 have found that those who score in the top percentile of impulse control and ethical awareness are:

  • 2.5 times less likely to engage in counterproductive work behaviors
  • 2 times less likely to engage in reckless behaviors
  • 1.9 times less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors

In addition, studies conducted within the security industry on driver behavior and risk revealed that operators who scored high in the behavioral and cognitive ability components of the risk and safety model were:

  • On average, involved in 40% fewer safety incidents than those who score low,
  • For drivers who have had incidents, those who scored high still had 25% fewer incidents

High-scoring drivers also cost their employers less in terms of insurance claims, averaging 50% lower claims than low-scoring drivers.

Further validation studies were conducted to investigate how drivers with high safety scores compared to their counterparts who did not score as well. These findings revealed that:

  • 71% of drivers with low safety scores had been involved in at least one driving-related accident. In contrast, only 15% of drivers with high safety scores had been involved in an accident.
  • Driving-related accidents per hour were 69% lower for the high-scoring group and,
  • Non-driving-related accidents per hour were 43% lower for the high-scoring group.

Overall, high safety scoring drivers were 78% less likely than low scores to have accidents at work!

In addition to safety risk, the Aon safety and risk model has also been applied to prosocial and dependability challenges. In a recent case, a public transport provider found that the assessment model could predict bus driver performance in terms of overconsumption of fuel.

High scorers in the safety and risk model had 25% less overconsumption of fuel. Based on these findings, the client company calculated that if all its drivers scored high on the assessment model, it would save a massive 1.8 Million euros per year!

Required assessments

To fully measure the safety and risk model, clients will need to use the core assessment battery specified:

  • For the behavioral components: The ADEPT-15 personality measure
  • For the cognitive components:
    • The scales mt-drv: A measure of multi-tasking ability
    • The scales nav: A measure of sense of direction and orientation
    • The scales e3+: A measure of the ability to concentrate over a sustained period
Fig 1. Example items from the scales mt-drv (left) and scales e3+ (right) assessments.

In addition, clients may elect to add additional measures of cognitive capacity that may be relevant to specific positions such as:

  • The scales rt-drv: A measure of reaction speed
  • The gridChallenge: A measure of adaptive memory and attention
  • The scales mem-drv: A measure of observation and information retention

As with all of Aon’s assessments, the measures within the risk and safety model are mobile / smartphone-enabled, brief in terms of completion time, adaptive, and highly resistant to cheating and faking behaviors (for more on this see our recent article on cheat-proof assessments).

Risk and safety reporting

Depending on the options selected, clients who implement the Aon risk and safety model may elect to use the Aon product report or have the model integrated within existing TTS Talent Match Reports.

In either case, reporting yields the following results:

  • An overall Risk and Safety Score
  • Specific results for Safety Orientation (i.e. Impulse control and ethical awareness)
  • Safety-related abilities (i.e Multi-tasking, sense of direction, and ability to concentrate)

If additional cognitive measures were included in the assessment battery, these scores will also be reported on for additional consideration.

Final thoughts

Finding and developing the right talent who will pose a reduced risk of safety incidents is a key consideration for almost all industries, but especially those where the public and reputational impact of human-mediated accidents is severe. For organizations within the aviation, manufacturing, mining, and transportation industries especially, having risk-reduced talent on board can not only reduce accidents, but save millions.

The key insight of the research discussed above is this: Behavior (and ability) predict and mediate risk and safety hazards.

While environmental factors do require consideration when mitigating against safety hazards at work, most of the likely incidents that might occur will have a behavioral component. To reduce this risk, it is incumbent on managers and talent professionals to assess the behavioral components and cognitive capacities that predict safe and dependable behavior (and by implication, their opposite).

When evaluating the already impressive global results and research evidence for Aon’s risk and safety solution, we are confident that TTS’s clients will benefit greatly from this model and reap the considerable safety and reputational advantages it has already demonstrated.

For more information on this model and its assessments, why not reach out to us at info@tts-talent.com?