A personality for safety: how bosses can screen out the risk

State public servants are among the least safety conscious, new research has found. Stress and bullying are also rapidly increasing. How can your organisation screen for bad behaviour?

Government employees make more than 4000 serious workers compensation claims each year in Australia, with stress and bullying claims skyrocketing.

The trend continues despite decades of occupational health and safety training — which might as well rate as the most rote activity public servants perform — and mandatory safety questions in many agencies’ appointment processes, despite knowing any switched-on public servant will lie about the degree to which their values mirror those of the organisation. Current screening and on-the-job training isn’t enough and its costing governments billions according to Safe Work Australia estimates.

However, the costs associated with those claims and time lost to injury or stress can be avoided through smarter screening, says one human resource psychologist, who has released a report into the traits and values of government’s safest workers. It found distinct differences in workers’ approach to safety, at the fundamental level of personality, in which some employees truly value safety and others do not.

The new study — Dangerous Personalities Make Work Unsafe, published today by Andrew Marty from organisational psychology firm SACS Consulting — shows concerning risks taken by public servants, despite existing screening measures by departments and agencies.

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