Transit Australia Group is a privately owned public transport company in Queensland. Established in 2008, their services include delivery of scheduled, school and chartered services.
A new safety program
Transit Australia Group identified a need for safety improvements as the company had been experiencing high statutory claims with significant associated costs and impacts on the business.
- Insufficient reporting or emphasis on safety within the business.
- Staff rarely came forward with concerns or reported incidents or near misses.
- There was minimal communication or injury management and return to work support for staff following injury, resulting in significant associated costs and delays.
A new health and safety manager role was created and Transit Australia Group developed and implemented a new safety management system.
Phase one of the system focused on setting the organisation's new safety framework and commitment, aiming to significantly change staff perceptions about safety.
Phase two will explore external safety issues that could potentially impact on Transit Australia Group business and staff, such as trends and spikes of accidents, types of injuries, and preventable actions.
Improvements in health and safety
As part of the new safety management system, changes have been made to return to work and rehabilitation processes.
A new injury management pack was developed and distributed to all staff to educate them on the process and reporting of injury management and rehabilitation. All staff are required to read and sign the policy on incident and injury reporting.
The pack outlines the benefits of returning to work following an injury. It discusses how the company expects staff be treated and supported when undergoing a return to work process as well as educating management about strategies for early intervention.
The business has also engaged medical professionals who are well versed on their injury management and rehabilitation strategy and suitable duties for returning workers.
The new return to work approach involves an open line of communication with, and support for, an injured worker.
Reporting and setting targets
There is now consistent safety information and reporting across the organisation ensuring all staff understand the internal and external processes.
Reporting and consultation on safety takes place through:
- regular internal audits
- monthly depot safety committee meetings and group quarterly meetings—the committees report on injuries and incidents for the month, review the new hazard register and action items each month for progression. The committees are well supported by senior management and are a key driver for changing the company's safety culture
- tool box meetings, which are held on key safety issues in each depot
- key performance indicators around return to work and rehabilitation that have been set for managers
- phone link-ups between managers, which are held daily for managers to report any injuries or incidents. The phone link-ups also allow support and assistance for local managers including ensuring return to work programs are progressing well.
Training and education
Transit Australia Group has worked on building the workplace safety culture by training senior management, educating the workforce and refreshing the company's core values with a focus on safety.
The company has also invested in training for all drivers across the group with a safety strategy course on how to manage public assaults or aggressive situations. Drivers now have a consistent company process to follow if they experience a violent or aggressive situation.
Benefits of the safety management system
Since implementing the safety management system, Transit Australia Group has experienced a significant culture shift in the company.
Staff have seen safety issues actioned and are more prepared to come forward with further ideas. Staff at one depot had previously expressed a safety concern that was not followed up at the time. This idea has now been actioned and is currently in a trial period. If successful it will be implemented on all buses across the group.
An annual staff award ceremony, which includes safety awards is held for each of the two regions, Southern and Northern
Transit Australia Group has experienced a significant reduction in their claims over the last 12 months. Their return to work and stay at work rate has improved and is better than the industry average. As a consequence, Transit Australia Group's WorkCover premium has also been reduced.
Transit Australia Group has undergone a significant shift in safety standards over the past eight to twelve months. It has taken leadership commitment and a determination to drive the change and the safety culture within the workplace.
The safety management system is constantly being reviewed, assisting with the next phases of the program. They believe they are well on the way with their new safety vision and aim to become best practice at safety within their industry.