What is OSPAT?
OSPAT means Occupational Safety Performance Assessment Technology. The OSPAT system uses a tracking task to assess a person’s hand-eye coordination prior to the start of each shift to identify variations in performance.
OSPAT does not use community or industry standards. Each person establishes their own personal profile.
The assessment requires each person to keep a moving cursor over the centre of a target on a screen. An assessment takes less than one minute to complete.
Profiles are held in a database and sent to terminals daily. At the end of each assessment the outcome is compared to the person’s own profile and the result displayed. Profiles are updated after each assessment and unsatisfactory results are immediately reported to the person’s supervisor.
Results can be either:
Pass = Proceed to work;
Caution = Proceed to work with care;
Alert = Report to your supervisor
How can a person obtain an unsatisfactory result using OSPAT?
There are many possible causes affecting performance: including fatigue, stress, illness, some medications, illicit drugs, excessive alcohol use, dehydration, high humidity and high temperatures etc. Any combination of these can cause a person to be less competent than usual and impaired.
Why the person is impaired is not the function of OSPAT.
Duty of Care
All organisations have a duty-of-care to ensure that all persons entering a workplace do not present a risk to themselves or others. Therefore, unsatisfactory results are reported to appropriate supervisors for review and action in accordance with corporate policy.
If I obtain an unsatisfactory result, can I repeat the assessment?
No, each person has just one opportunity to pass prior to starting a shift. Assessments are important reminders so consider your health and your lifestyle risks. The axiom Fit for Work, Fit for Life is important.
What happens if I have an unsatisfactory result?
Some sites will require other more specific tests such as an alcohol and drug test to eliminate these as possible causes of impairment, but there are many others. Interviews should be conducted by supervisors in an effort to identify the cause of impairment and what help that might be needed to assist the employee.
If the responsible supervisor cannot be confident that you are fit to work, his duty-of-care responsibilities determine what steps are required by corporate safety policy.
What happens if I have an unsatisfactory result but feel perfectly all right?
How you feel may not be reflected in your assessment result. OSPAT can only record how you performed. Some substance can make you feel great, but those feelings may be masking levels of impairment that represent a risk in the workplace. Your supervisor can replay and examine your assessment in comparison with your normal profile. He or she cannot afford to risk your life or that of others based just on how you feel.
For example, a drunk or hyped up driver of a speeding vehicle may feel great driving at high speed just before hitting a tree.
I am no good with computers.
You require no knowledge of computers to perform an assessment successfully. The OSPAT equipment is intuitive and simple to operate.
Your result for any assessment is compared only to your average and cannot be compared to the average of others.
OSPAT is designed to protect the privacy of employees.
How does OSPAT benefit me?
Each person should perform an assessment prior to the start of each shift. Therefore, those people who are working on your shift will have demonstrated that they have passed their OSPAT assessment. If all employees in a workplace are not impaired it may reduce the risk of incidents for all employees. The assessment routine also provides a constant reminder of what is needed to be fit for work.
“Staff morale has increased considerably… Absenteeism has dropped significantly… Production has increased…” since the introduction of OSPAT. (Koniambo Nickel)
Why should a company use OSPAT?
The law requires employers to maintain a healthy and safe workplace. Employees are required to take reasonable care to ensure their own health and safety at work and to avoid adversely affecting the health and safety of any other person.
OSPAT contributes to safety by identifying those people who may be a safety risk prior to them starting work on any particular shift. OSPAT therefore helps employers and employees.
Is OSPAT an invasion of privacy?
No. OSPAT helps improve workplace safety for everyone. To make this possible, your supervisor needs to be aware of all the occasions when you obtain a result which is significantly below your average.
Your results will be treated with confidentiality in accordance with company policies and procedures.
Unlike some forms of testing, OSPAT is not about policing the social habits of employees. OSPAT is non-accusative and non-judgmental.
How secure is my personal information?
The method of calculating and recording results prevents one person’s results being compared to those of another person.
OSPAT computer records can only be accessed by authorised supervisors. The OSPAT database is controlled by a System Manager.
The OSPAT database is password protected.
Can a friend perform an assessment for me?
Yes, if you want to cheat. However, your friend will not know what your average is. If they perform much worse than your average, the supervisor will be alerted and you will have to see the supervisor even though you might have passed.
Alternatively, if your friend performs much better than you usually do, your average will increase. The next time you perform an assessment, you will have to perform better than you usually do otherwise you won’t pass.
You could lose out either way so don’t try to beat the system.