Category Archives: Health and Safety

UC commercialises health and safety test

UC has entered into a licensing deal with OPRA Psychology Group, one of the largest dedicated psychology firms in Asia-Pacific, with offices throughout New Zealand, Australia and in Singapore.

The deal will make the Hazard Awareness Test (HAT), developed by Associate Professor Chris Burt, available for purchase by health and safety managers from major New Zealand, Australian and Singaporean companies.

chris burtAssociate Professor Burt designed the new method for testing hazard awareness at UC’s Department of Psychology. The test can be incorporated into psychometric testing used for hiring and assessing staff, and is a significant advancement in bias-free measurement in the safety space.

OPRA began promoting the Hazard Awareness Test (HAT) to health and safety managers via a webinar at the end of February, which was designed to kick-start global sales.

Associate Professor Burt’s research and teaching focus on employee recruitment and selection, and he has been leading a team developing new psychometric tests of safety variables, which utilise 21st century technology and principles of gamification to avoid many of the bias associated with classic psychometric tests.

Intercom invited him to share more details of his design.

How is your new testing method different from existing tests? 
The Hazard Awareness Test (HAT) has several advantages over other safety related measures (there are in fact no other hazard awareness tests – but there are other measures in the safety space).

First, the HAT has no written questions. It measures using 100 scorable components within 10 puzzles.  This removes the literacy requirement, meaning the test scores are not contaminated by language skills.  The HAT also cannot be responded to in a socially desirable way. In contrast, other tests ask questions and it is easy for the applicant or employee to know what the right or socially desirable answer is.  Thus they respond in a way that ensures they ‘look’ safe, or look like they will behave safely.   The design of the HAT completely avoids this type of test bias.

The HAT is also a gamified test.  That is it is completed in the form of a game and our research has shown that individuals enjoy the experience of completing the test, and find it motivating and engaging.

Is the test useful for all sized organisations (big, medium, small)?  Yes the HAT was designed to be used with all jobs and all industries.  Wherever safety is an issue – employees need to be hazard aware, and the HAT can be used either as a job applicant screening tool or as a tool to assign employee to training.

How long did it take you to develop? 
About five years.  The first couple of years was trying to work out how to build a test with no questions.  After that I employed Hannah Beehre to develop the artwork for the test.

Once we had the basic test there was several years of testing – validation research.  Several dissertation students were involved in some of that.

And then how long to commercialise it? 
I confirmed the HAT is a valid measure by the end of 2015 and since then we have been working to commercialise it.  This involved building it on OPRA’s psychometric test platform ‘Podium‘,  so it is globally available via mobile device. It is also supported with a feedback report. OPRA Psychology Group hold the New Zealand, Australia and Singapore distribution rights.   It’s been about a year, or just over, since we started talking to OPRA.

What were some of the challenges to commercialising it? 
Fewer than you might think. The HAT is a very useful tool.  It’s quick to administer (18 minutes on average for good performers) and allows job applicants to be assessed on hazard awareness.  This can help companies improve their safety record by identifying individuals who might be risky in high risk situations, and also helps companies comply with safety legislation.

Who has it been trialled with? 
It’s a bit tricky to answer this as ethics means I can’t be specific about where data was collected.  But the validation work has used a lot of different samples.  It’s also being trailed in a number of companies – with Orion being an early commercial adopter.

Has UC used it internally in its own recruitment processes?
No – not yet and I don’t know if there are any plans for this.

Is there anything else you would like UC staff to know about the project/tool? 
It’s very important that everyone knows the HAT is a psychometric test – it is only useful if its security is maintained.  Because of this, it is very important to keep it secure, so there are no pictures or demonstrations to share.

But you can see below an excerpt from a sample report.

HAT report

Associate Professor Burt has also authored a book New employee safety: Risk factors and management strategies, which was published by Springer in 2015.

New UC Event/Incident Reporting System

Goodbye paper pushing – Hello easy on-line reporting!

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer an Accident/Incident/Near Miss or Discomfort Pain and Injury (DPI) during your workday, you need to report it to your Health and Safety Team.

This can now be done at the click of a button

If you have any questions about this new initiative please contact us. We would also love to hear your feedback.

Stay safe!

Health & Safety Team
Phone: 93636

Five ways strength training helps your health & wellbeing

The benefits of strength training are huge for everyone, no matter your age, ability or gender. In fact, the older we get, the more important it is that we incorporate functional strength training into our weekly routine.


  1. It helps improve bone density and lean muscle, both of which we lose naturally as we age. This can help turn you into a lean mean fat fighting machine with stronger bones less susceptible to osteoporosis.
  2. It improves the strength of your connective tissues and muscles, which helps prevent injury.
  3. It can help you move with ease – improving your squat and core can help you sit/stand or even get out of your car more easily.
  4. It can help improve your balance (thereby preventing likelihood of falls).
  5. It can help reduce blood pressure and manage stress.

Does that mean you have to hit the weights room? Not necessarily! Any resistance work that overloads your muscles will provide the stimulus your body needs to grow stronger. For some, body weight exercises like push ups and lunges in the park would work, or even a strong yoga class could do the trick. For others, it might mean lifting weights in the gym.

Recreation centre, various classes set up by staff for marketing services, 20.10.15 Client, Kat Henderson, Rec Centre.

To choose the right kind of strength training, you can ask for some help from a qualified fitness instructor. For RecCentre members, the Fitness Consultants at the UC RecCentre are more than happy to chat with you anytime as well. Just catch them on shift if they’re looking lonely and ask away. Alternatively, you can book in for a free 15 minute consultation, where they’ll work through your questions and help you arrive at a decision that will set you on your best path. Happy exercising!

Support for those affected by Port Hills fires

A number of university staff families have been evacuated or self-evacuated and this is a difficult time for the individuals and families affected and for our city.

Any staff needing support should speak to their manager.  If you have been evacuated and have nowhere to go, there are a number of short term places available in Campus Living Villages.  Should you wish to discuss this, please contact Abi Spencer on 027 839 6309.

UC is communicating with students, parents and agents to provide information and reassurance to the extent we can.

Staff receiving questions from students can tell them:

“While the University is operating as normal, support is available to any student who has been personally affected.  If you’re already on campus, please contact Student Care on Level 2 of the Central Library in the Puaka-James Hight Building. Alternatively, you can telephone 03 369 3388 or email with any concerns.

Other support is available from:

“Even if you don’t require support, please keep in touch with your parents, friends and family so they can be assured you are safe.”

UC will keep staff and students informed by email, and if necessary, by Twitter (@UCNZ) and the University of Canterbury Facebook page. While these social media channels are open and viewable by searching from any internet device, you can follow UC on both Twitter and Facebook to ensure you receive messages from the University as quickly as possible.

City Council updates are available at Local radio and websites such as are also good sources for the latest information about the fire.

Five great reasons to try Group Exercise

Recreation Centre photo shoot, showing all aspects of the Rec Centre facilities, badminton, balance exercises with balls, weight pack exercises, floor exercises on the mezzanine, Rec Centre reception, group weights in the gym, steppers, walkers, spin, weight machines, free weights, straps, yoga, rowing machines, 15.8.14Hitting the pavement, cardio machines or weights room can be a fabulous way to reach your health and fitness goals, and suits many just fine. But there are some great reasons to join a group of like-minded individuals to get your regular exercise fix. Here are just five:

  1. The group fitness atmosphere is motivating and energising. The music, moves and teacher can drag you through your workout on the toughest days.
  2. There is no planning or thinking required! That’s the job of the instructor – they’ll plan the class, motivate you, and provide feedback and technique assistance on how well you’re doing. Just turn up and join in!
  3. You can schedule the class time into your calendar – committing to a time and place helps you create good habits.
  4. You can work at your own pace. Instructors teach multi-level classes, meaning people will be doing different adaptations of the same exercise all around you! You can choose to go heavier with your weights in pump (or not), to plank on your toes or knees or whether to turn up the dial in spin. As long as you are giving your best on the day, then you are winning.
  5. The social connections you can make with other exercisers and the instructors can really add sparkle to your day!

Most gyms that offer group fitness will have a range of styles on offer to suit most people. There will usually be a selection of cardio, resistance training, or mind-body based options.

Recreation centre, various classes set up by staff for marketing services, 20.10.15 Client, Kat Henderson, Rec Centre.The RecCentre offers 50+ classes per week as part of their Group Fitness timetable once the students are back, and an additional 10+ Small Group Training courses. You can check out our term time schedule and see if any of our classes look enticing! Not a member?

You can obtain a two week pass simply by emailing and letting me know you saw this offer on the blog.

Do you prefer the great outdoors? There are a number of outdoor classes operating around the city, at various prices. Do you prefer free? Check out the free, family friendly Saturday morning session run by PT in the Park

Have a fun-filled day!

Take part in the 2017 Group Fitness Challenge – find out more here