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Transdev Brisbane Ferries: Safety starts with YOU: Be fitter, be safer

Transdev Brisbane Ferries is part of Transdev Australasia, which operates nine transport businesses throughout Australia and New Zealand. The company was awarded a grant under the Queensland Government'sHigh-Risk Industry Work Health Funding Program in 2013.

Transdev reviews its internal health and safety campaign each year with the aim of maximising employee participation. The Safety Starts with YOU: Be fitter, be safer campaign was developed in 2013. It integrates worker health with existing work health and safety systems, in order to increase employee wellbeing and improve the organisation's safety culture.

Sedentary work and Transdev's ageing workforce were identified as key health and safety risk factors. The company recognised that improving the health of workers could have business benefits including reduced absenteeism, sick leave and lost time injury figures, and improved staff engagement and morale.

The program

The main strategies of the campaign were to educate employees about positive health behaviours and the link between lifestyle choices and chronic illness. They included the following:

  • A free five-point health check offered on site to employees. A nurse was recruited to conduct confidential health assessments recording blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, waist measurements, smoking and lifestyle habits.
  • A pedometer fitness challenge—the 10 000 Steps Workplace Challenge—encouraged exercise and teamwork in a positive and fun way. Weekly prizes were awarded to individuals and teams that achieved the greatest number of steps. Post-challenge events celebrated the overall winners, most improved stepper and best team name.
  • A recipe competition allowed employees to combine their knowledge about exercise with healthy eating options. Staff were invited to submit recipes for a recipe book called Nutrition Starts with Me.
  • Posters with health tips and messages were displayed on digital screens at worksites.
  • Meal options were modified, with salads, wholemeal breads, fresh fruit and bottled water provided at employee BBQs and events.


The Safety Starts with YOU: Be fitter, be safer campaign attracted 161 participants with the following results:

  • The five-point health checks had a 25% participation rate.
  • The 10 000 Steps Workplace Challenge had a 35% participation rate. After the challenge, 95% of participants reported they enjoyed being involved; 76% said they were now more active outside of work hours; and 81% said they would continue with physical activity after the challenge.
  • Healthier food options are now offered at employee BBQs and events.
  • Following the campaign, Transdev Queensland approached a local gym and asked them to provide an eight week boot camp fitness challenge to employees. This fitness challenge was also held in aid of Diabetes Australia, with subsidies offered for employee participation as well as donations made to Diabetes Australia.

Management promoted and participated in the campaign:

  • All senior management participated in the five-point health checks and the 10 000 Steps Workplace Challenge.
  • The General Manager of Brisbane Ferries and the Managing Director of Transdev Queensland wrote to staff to encourage them to participate in the campaign.
  • Senior management rewarded the winner and most improved 'steppers' of the 10 000 Steps Workplace Challenge during post- event activities.
  • Transdev Australasia CEO's was named as the Safe Work Australia Safety Ambassador of the Year for 2013.

Transdev continues to address worker health and monitor key performance indicators for absenteeism, sick leave, staff morale and lost time injury rates. The campaign evaluation report was shared with other Transdev Australasia businesses to use as a blueprint for developing further health and wellbeing employee initiatives.

Future initiatives planned include continued participation in Safe Work Month activities, skin checks, flu vaccinations, and integrating all healthy worker initiatives into employee induction training.

Lessons learnt


  • Obtaining support from management was crucial. All senior managers and the Transdev Australasia executive team supported the campaign.
  • Sufficient time should be allowed to recruit for the health checks and pedometer challenge.
  • Utilising the existing 10 000 Steps Workplace Challenge saved time and resources, compared to creating a new challenge.

Unexpected barriers/challenges

  • Not all staff were computer literate, limiting their ability to register and log their steps online for the pedometer challenge. This problem was overcome by facilitating in- house assistance and encouragement from team members.


  • Pitch the physical activity at a level that is accessible for all fitness levels and age groups.
  • Make the physical activity friendly, fun and not too competitive.
  • Ensure the program is backed by an integrated, properly funded and managed promotional campaign.

More information

Preventing illness and injury is an investment in your workforce. Find out what your organisation can do to improve health and wellbeing in your workplace: