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