John Pearce - Coffs Harbour City Council

Coffs Harbour City Council manages all the usual services of a rural regional council, including roads, water, sewer, libraries and cemeteries. John Pearce works at the cemetery and was concerned about the manual handling activity that was required by cemetery staff and funeral directors when lowering a coffin into a grave, not to mention the damage it was doing to his back.

So, after extensive consultation with council colleagues and funeral parlours, John designed and built a trolley on an A-frame to transport the coffin-lowering device behind a ride-on mower or small tractor. The device reduces manual handling activities by about 90 per cent and minimises trip hazards around the grave. It eliminates the need to lift the 52 kg coffin-lowering device on and off the frame and eliminates the need to push the old, 300 kg trailer.

As a result of this innovation, the council now actively encourages all staff to be proactive and provide suggestions on improving health and safety outcomes.