Recent developments in the assessment of fitness for work has yielded interesting results.
An article in the Government Gazette, 27 February 2015 (126.96.36.199) calls for psychological pre-selection criteria which can be measured by using Psychomotor testing.
Assessment of Fitness for Work
In the 1960’s mine workers who did mainly manual tasks were assessed for strength, health and manual performance.
In the 1980’s mines and industry introduced mechanisation. This huge step called for different mental or cognitive skills. The equipment was now mobile and could be used all over the site as opposed to the previous limited application opportunities.
The Dover Test
For many years the testing of operators has been a “nice to have” part of the selection and recruitment. As things developed, this testing has become an important part of any Department of Mineral Resources investigation or even recommendation.
Interested parties have worked with the Dover Test as a means of assessing the person’s mind set or mental component.
The latest concept in testing of operators and workers that manage complex machinery, has been that the psychological or psychomotor testing of which the Dover Test is commonly used, has now been gazetted and forms part of South Africa’s psychometric testing legislation.
The 27 February 2015 gazette covering labour legislation call for the inclusion of a psychological assessment as well as a physical evaluation of a person’s physical and mind skills.
The mental skills are an important part of the worker in the newer or more mechanised environment.
Purpose of Psychometric Testing Legislation
The Government Gazette of February 2015 in sub-section 188.8.131.52 sets out the requirements.
These requirements are based on the concepts of safe environment for worker and others due to the mind-set that is evaluated.
The reasoning behind the gazetted section is an attempt to integrate the thinking and doing function as in safe thinking, safe working and respect for the safety of other workers.
An analysis of the tests done by Dover Test measures, among other things, how the person sees an understands the working environment.
The gazetted concept is understood to address what he/she thinks and does as well as how he/she does things.
It is probably reasonable to assume that the inclusion of the psychological component on a legalized level was done with a lot of thought and consultation.
Psychological health in the work environment is probably one of the factors that was always understood to exist, but has now been given legal status.
For employers to embrace this, it is necessary to understand that the second tier of work namely health and safety are a huge influence factor on the primary function of productivity.
What do Psychological tests really measure?
All of us have experienced fatigue, frustration, anger, irritation, stress and a host of other factors. These usually do not influence us on a constant basis. They do however play a huge role when they become chronic or even part of a person’s psychological makeup.
The effect of these factors on operators of moving machines has been addressed by the psychometric testing legislation. Far from being just another nuisance factor, the areas covered by these tests such as concentration and attention become significant when seen in the context of major problems.
An example is the series of ferry ships that sink as a result of not closing doors properly resulting in flooding and sinking – even though all the instruments on board warned them, inattention or fatigue or stress makes us ignore these. This is the area of the psychological test, a simple early warning system that can be measured.
Does this complicate matters?
All assessments that are done by companies or recruitment agencies will benefit from a forty minute (40 min) test such as the Dover Test. These potential hazards are identified and reported by the test results.
The new psychometric testing legislation is not intended to be discriminatory and as such is not. The testing is a means of identifying potential areas and either avoiding them or addressing them through training or mentoring.
What does it mean to me?
Psychometric testing legislation and control are obviously a means to regulate what goes on in industry. The gazetted part 184.108.40.206 only addresses the need to check the cognitive component together with the psychological.
The Dover Test is an easy to administer, culture free, fair test, which provides information. To comply with this requirement, a simple adjustment and addition is made.
Companies that have purchased the test do so in house, others make use of service providers. Either way the company can comply by using one of these methods.
In a follow up article, I will give a more detailed description together with some case studies from some of the bigger and smaller companies.