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Safety Starts at the Point of Hire


By Mark Tinney, Construction Executive

Job-specific behavioral assessment is proving to be an effective tool to improve workplace safety – and profitability.

Pre-employment assessments based on an intensive job analysis with proven top performers in construction jobs (laborer, carpenter, electrician, pipefitter among many others) identified key behaviors that account for workplace safety. Confirming safety behaviors at the point of hire is incredibly important for minimizing a company’s exposure to risk.

Research with top performers discovered what many already know, a worker’s approach to safety tends to be hardwired by the time they arrive at work. For this reason, safety training is best viewed as reinforcing existing behavior rather than as a transformational experience for new hires (hire for safety behaviors, reinforce with ongoing training).

Following is a small sample of behaviors generated and rated as extremely important for workplace safety by top performing laborers, carpenters, electricians:


• maintains steady attention on what they are doing;
• carefully listens in order to perform work correctly;
• safely and properly works around machinery and moving equipment;
• behaves safely and properly on the job at all times; and
• pays attention to what is happening around them at all times.


• maintains safe conditions at all times during demolition;
• takes initiative to correct safety problems;
• checks Material Safety Data Sheets before handling potentially hazardous materials;
• identifies and reports problems with cranes and lifts to operator; and
• properly handles crisis or emergency situations.


• makes sure rigging is safely set up and operated while pulling wire;
• follows and enforces safety rules at all times;
• safely and properly works around high voltage;
• performs field coordination with other trades on the job; and
• makes every effort to do job right the first time.

The above represent a fraction of the nearly 500 behaviors identified in each job analysis.

Confirming a candidate’s behavioral profile lines up with proven top performers is the first step in improving workplace safety, productivity and profitability. Harry Franzheim, President of New Era Solutions has utilized behavioral assessment for more than five years to hire thousands of laborers.  His analysis revealed the following:

• new hires that passed the behavioral assessment scored an average 24 percent higher on technical skills tests; and
• laborers passing the behavioral assessment had 71 percent fewer injuries and missed days of work than non-passing employees

Franzheim added, “Laborers who passed the assessment are typically safer, and as important, they are less likely to miss work if they do get injured because they have the right behaviors for the job.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are roughly 150,000 construction site accidents each year. The most common are falls and contact with equipment. Workers between the ages of 25 and 34 are the most likely to be injured in a construction site accident. On average more than 1,000 die each year. While these statistics are tragic, the good news is that there are tools available that greatly improve safety outcomes. All roads to a safe (and profitable) work site start at the point of hire.

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