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Innovation in health and safety recognised at UC Celebrating Excellence Awards

01 December 2022

Autumn colours create beautiful scenes on the Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) campus, but also present a significant challenge for the Grounds team, which collects an average of 20 tonnes of leaves each year.


The Grounds Team has received the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Recognition Award 2022. Pictured are Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Seamus Moran, Matthew Kennedy, John Jones, Hugh Robinson, Darryl Cone, Rowan Barrett, Jonathan Stephens, Richard O’Dowd, Andrew Dalton (from left to right).

Sustainable Development Goals 11 - Sustainable cities and communities Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

UC Trade Supervisor Grounds Darryl Cone says the team has found an innovative way to get the job done, which was recognised yesterday when the team received the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Recognition Award for their modification of an existing tractor-mounted leaf sucker unit to a more ergonomic trailer-mounted design.

A new health and safety version of the Cluedo board game was the other winner in the health, safety and wellbeing category at this year’s Hui Whakamānawa | Celebrating Excellence Awards at UC.

Cone says the new configuration will greatly reduce fatigue and muscle strain for the operators during the five-week leaf drop season.

“The result of these modifications has seen less stress and strain on the muscles and backs of the team when using this piece of equipment and greatly reduced the dust plume in the air when in use. It has also reduced our carbon footprint by removing two older style tractors from our fleet.

“We are very pleased to be recognised for being innovative and problem-solving and for supporting the wellbeing of our team to make a physical labour intensive job a little easier and safer for us and others on campus.”

Cone says it was a collaborative effort by the Grounds team, including Hugh Robinson, Rowan Barrett, Andrew Dalton, Richard O’Dowd, John Jones, Seamus Moran, and Matthew Kennedy. It is the second award the team has received in the last three years for being innovative in supporting health and safety initiatives.

The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Innovation Award was presented to Matthew Cowan for his Health and Safety Cluedo game. The award nomination identified the design as truly creative, informative, entertaining and engaging and suggested it could be adapted and scaled for use across the university.

Kaihautū Matua Pūmanawa Tangata | Executive Director of People, Culture and Campus Life Paul O’Flaherty says the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Awards acknowledge people and teams who demonstrate commitment and achievement in improving health, safety and wellbeing at UC through innovative systems and initiatives that make a difference.

The Health and Safety Awards were celebrated at the 2022 Hui Whakamānawa | Celebrating Excellence Awards evening on 30 November, alongside the accomplishments of other academic and professional colleagues.

Read more about Hui Whakamānawa here.

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