|Fig 1. A body bag on a tray in a mortuary|
The body bags in NSW are made of blue tarpaulin, as shown in figure 1. I remember how surprised I was to find body bags were made of exactly the same stuff as the tarpaulin in my car. Even down to the colour and feel they are identical. Occasionally body bags will be made of brown tarpaulin, or a white or brown heavy cloth. This heavy cloth type is rare and more expensive, but some companies prefer it for nursing home or house transfers as it is a lot quieter than the tarpaulin bags.
The other thing is that body bags do not have handels. Well there are some with handels but these are rare. This is because they are "noticeably more expensive" (as someone once told me) and as such groups like hospitals or funeral homes are reluctant to buy them. The handels are made of seatbelt material and are stitched into the inside of cloth bags.
Final thing is the zipper. The zipper is not down the middle or at the front. Instead it is on the side, slightly above the very edge of the bag. This makes it much easier to get the bag under a body and then zip it up. It means you do not have to lift the body into the bag but can simply roll the bag under the body. This is great for small spaces, heavy bodies or just to save effort. Plus having the zip on the side means it's less lightly to rip or break under stress.
With infectious bodies some places use a special yellow body bag. This bag is basically the same material as the tarpaulin type but a stronger and more leak proof material. It is a great idea to use this bag as you immediately know by the bright yellow colour that the body is infectious. However most places do not use these bags for whatever reason.
Something I find interesting is that on the Australian Museum they have a section on body bags (where I got the picture). On that page they say that there are special regulations for body bags and that extra precautions are taken for infectious bodies. But in my experience I have seen bodies transfered while only wrapped in a plastic sheet and/or blanket. Which apparently meets the legal and health requirements. And with infectious bodies they are sometimes placed in a yellow bag or in two bags, but this is very rare.
So that there's some information about the body bag. It's not a black thing with a large zip on the front like in TV shows and movies. It's most often a tarpaulin bag with the zip down one side.