Identifying the problem

PremoSystems’ founder, Mark Armstrong, is an accredited exercise physiologist (ESSA) and a Fellow in Exercise Physiology. 

For many years he has been working with employers and employees to prevent sprain/strain injuries as a result from performing manual tasks. As Managing Director of the Body Active Consultancy, he has also provided consultancy services in recruitment, training and rehabilitation. 

Mark is a trusted advisor to various organizations on the topics of customised pre-employment medical and functional assessment protocols, prevention of manual task musculoskeletal sprain and strain injuries, the aging workforce, and workforce health and well-being.

From 2012-2014, while undertaking an extensive review of the aged-care provider St Ives Group, Mark identified that their pre-employment assessment processes did not clearly identify those new employees who had previous injuries. This increased the risk of these individuals re-injuring themselves during their day to day work. 

The First PREMFA®

Working closely with St Ives, Mark developed a basic model of the PREMFA® process, which was a set of tools to enable the company to be more selective about who undergoes what type of assessment. Mark built a more comprehensive medical assessment, and separate functional assessment protocols.

The first PREMFA® process resulted in more accurately matching the physical capabilities of each new employee to the physical demands of the job. 

The outcome was fewer injuries and fewer workers’ compensation claims.

  • When Mark commenced with the St Ives Group, they had 36 open workers’ compensation claims, and at the end of the project, this was down to 3-4 claims.
  • As a result of the triaging process provided by the new PREMFA® process, St Ives was reported to have saved approximately $1.3 million in insurance premiums. 
  • This was measured over the period Feb 2014 to early 2017

By understanding the physical demands of the work tasks in each individual job role and the physical capabilities of staff (old and new), the use of the algorithm enabled a better assessment, as part of the company’s recruitment process, as to who required a medical and/or functional assessment. This process reduced the risk of potential workers compensation claims whilst also contributing to a more effective outcome with return to work programs. Consequently this contributed to the reduction in the organisation's insurance premiums by 40%, equivalent to $1.3 milion over a 4 year period.” - Debbie Uncle, Work, Health and Safety Manager, St Ives

As Mark worked with more clients, he realised there must be a predictive way to facilitate the Fitness For Work assessments required of candidates by employers, especially those onboarding to remote sites.

​Fixing the problem – using science and technology to reduce time and costs

ALTRAD Services

​Cape – innovative mining and industrial solutions

In 2017, Mark was approached by Cape (now known as Altrad) and informed that the cost and time taken to complete pre-employment assessments with Body Active Consultancy was becoming increasingly unsustainable. Mark was asked to assist in finding a solution. 

Over a three year period, Mark conducted a retrospective analysis of Cape’s data, which revealed an average return on investment of around 5%. The cost of pre-employment assessment was in excess of 1 million dollars per annum. 

The recommendations based on the review of the data were for Cape to stop conducting pre-employment assessments, accept the potential additional workers compensations that might occur. 

This would put Cape $500,000 in front. 

This recommendation was not well received by management at the time!

Mark then began working on a hypothesis similar to the previous research paper he completed at UWA in the area of Repetitive Strain Injuries. The hypothesis was based around the ability of an algorithm incorporating machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to predict those candidates that did not need additional pre-employment assessments versus those candidates who did – which today is known as PREMFA®. 

Three and half years later Cape will be participating in a formal trial of the process in late 2020 - early 2021. If they had not asked for assistance in their pre-employment processes, PREMFA® may not have been created. 

Readi Recruitment Agency

​Readi Recruitment Agency – a small labour hire and recruitment agency

Readi Recruitment provides labour hire for shutdown work across Australia. This requires a large pool of candidates to be ready for deployment; traditionally requiring all to have completed comprehensive pre-employment medical and functional assessments. This process is time-consuming, costly and stressful, and in the majority of cases, unnecessary. 

Readi selected two specific shutdown sites – one in Western Australia and one in Queensland – to trial the prototype PREMFA® process. The trial would demonstrate to what extent PREMFA® could impact cost and time when compared to the more traditional approach of sending all candidates through the entire pre-employment assessment process.

The results were as follows:

  • Western Australia (121 personnel required) 
    • 66 personnel (50%) were assessed and hired using the PREMFA® process – this took five days from start to finish 
    • Only five of the 66 personnel required additional assessments e.g drug and alcohol. All five failed to make it to site. 
  • Queensland (41 personnel required)
    • 60 personnel were screened for the 40 positions – this took eight days as many were interstate workers 
    • 30 personnel (50%) were assessed using the PREMFA® process. Three of the 30 personnel required additional assessments. All passed and made it to site.
    • All remained injury-free during the 14-day shutdown. 

Readi estimated the trial cultiminated a 60% reduction in time taken to process candidates. PREMFA®’s pre-employment assessments and review procedures were much shorter, resulting in less stress for the recruitment team and a reduction in costs of approximately 70% for both recruitment projects. PREMFA® also increased the recruiting capacity of the company ensuing in a greater business performance outcome. 

“The safety and well-being of our employees is fundamental to our ability to effectively support our customers and grow as a business. The PREMFA® process enabled us at Readi to streamline our recruitment and on-boarding process with efficiency improvements such as time and cost. It also allowed us to expand our candidate pool criteria for these particular shutdowns and ensure that if they were currently on jobs around Australia, they could complete their assessment without it impacting their ability to secure further work.” - Shane Stafford, Readi Recruitment Agency.

Very encouraged with this success, Mark has continued to develop Premo Systems into an innovative company providing cost and time effect solutions in health and recruitment industries

Mader Group

​The Mader Group – specialist recruitment agency

In 2017, the Mader Group reached out to Mark to provide a solution that would enable them to process prospective-employee applications in a timely manner while still ensuring thorough checks were in place and high quality candidates selected. 

By 2019 PREMFA® had evolved into an online data and photo collection tool with an automated assessment engine and management portal, with bonus of being mobile-friendly.

The new PREMFA® was immediately more user-friendly for candidates to provide their necessary details and ensured the recruitment staff received the appropriate (and properly completed) medical and functional assessments in line with mining regulations and requirements. 

It was fast and efficient.

Mader saw an immediate reduction in onboarding time and costs. Those divisions within Mader using PREMFA® reported:

  • A reduction in total time to process candidates through the recruitment process, from start to finish
  • Cost savings 
  • A reduction in workload and stress

“Use of PREMFA® helps us process candidates quickly and efficiently, simplifying some of our recruitment, pre-employment assessments and onboarding processes.”