Department of Health

Healthy Workers Initiative

Department of Police and Emergency Management (DPEM) (Tasmania Police)

Police officers from Tasmania Police improved their eating habits with the introduction of a Soup Program which aimed to increase the healthy meal and snack options available to shift-workers.

The challenge

Research conducted by Tasmania Police shows police officers are generally sedentary at work due to significant desk-based and shift work.

“Instead of walking to a co-worker’s office down the corridor to communicate, we are more likely to send them an email,” says Dr Cooley of the University of Tasmania.

The workplace health program at Tasmania Police aims to:

  • Improve the healthy eating habits and physical activity levels of the workforce
  • Address the sedentary issues around desk-based work facing some of its workforce

What we did

  • Provided the option of buying microwavable, pre-prepared soups as an alternative to fast-food options
  • Developed a computer based program that reminds and encourages desk based workers to move regularly

Soup Program

“At two in the morning healthy food can be virtually impossible to find,” says Mike Cosgrove, Manager of Occupational Health and Safety, Tasmania Police.

The aim of the Soup Program was to improve the eating habits of officers. The impetus for this initiative came from two recent studies into the health and fitness of police officers (Pacing the Police and Good Fuel for Police). These studies found officers who work shifts out of regular hours do not always have access to healthy food options.

In recognition of this, the program increased the healthy meal and snack options available by providing microwavable, pre-prepared soups as an alternative to fast-food options. The Department of Health and Human Services Community Nutrition Unit assisted in the development of the program.

Outcomes of the Soup Program

  • Officers are now more likely to bring their own soup or other prepared meals as opposed to eating fatty take-way meals
  • Based on the success of the Soup Program, the Department aims to roll it out to every major police station in Tasmania

Exertime Program

The Exertime program was launched in May 2010, involving 60 participants over a 12 month period. The program provides a reminder that encourages the participant to stand up and undertake one of 65 activities ranging from push ups to chair lifts. Exertime activities take on average, one to two minutes to perform, throughout the workday, occurring 10 to 12 times. The employee then logs their progress by entering it into a computer.

Outcomes of the Exertime Program

The participants’ progress was evaluated through pre-trial and post program questionnaires and cholesterol counts. Key outcomes include:
  • A significant decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides following the intervention;
  • Reported increases in both physical and mental health; and
  • A reduction in the number of musculoskeletal complaints and work-related soreness.