Landscaper-turned-truck driver Hugh Turner has become a regular and welcome sight for busy hospital staff across regional Victoria.
At a time when COVID-19 has significantly increased volumes of clinical waste at hospitals, he travels across the state from Melbourne, collecting the waste for disposal from hospital staff.
“They always come out if they see me and say ‘hello’. Sometimes they bring me coffee or water. They’re really nice and ask me how my week has been,” says Hugh, 24, who joined Cleanaway two years ago.
Pictured: Cleanaway Daniels Driver Hugh Turner with his truck
Hugh is among more than 2,300 drivers employed by Cleanaway, delivering essential services to businesses and communities across Australia and helping make a sustainable future possible.
Cleanaway has been celebrating these drivers with a social media campaign branded ‘True Blue Legends’.
Hugh works long hours six days a week, sometimes covering 5,000 kilometres in a week as he criss-crosses the state as a relief driver, replacing or supplementing other drivers when they are sick or need support.
Sundays are for winding down by playing golf and fishing and occasionally following his beloved Carlton in the Australian Football League.
He starts work at the Dandenong base in Melbourne at 4am, completing paperwork, estimating how many bins he needs to load into the vehicle and planning his trips, which take him to all corners of the state and sometimes further.
He drivers as far afield as Mildura, Portland, Yarrawonga and Albury/Wodonga and sometimes into NSW to Albury, and even Broken Hill.
Hugh’s relief work on ‘country runs’ has become regular since the global pandemic took hold, producing excess waste which are beyond the capacity of the regular drivers to collect.
“Before I joined Cleanaway I worked as a landscaper, which was pretty boring, being in the same spot every day, whereas in this job I like going into work. It’s something different every day. Every day I go to a different country location. That’s the best part of the job. I love it,” he says.
“When I started two years ago, I was doing local city driving and then they gave me a couple of country runs. I discovered I love the open road. I see new towns every day. I see all over Victoria. It’s completely different to the city. One day I could be at the ocean and the next day in the mountains. There’s a lot more versatility to the job. You have to think on your feet.”
Hugh may stop for only 20 minutes at each hospital, parking in a bay before unloading empty bins ranging in size from 120 litres to 1,100 litres and leaving hospital staff to fill them before the bins and sharps containers are loaded on the truck for the next stop.
Planning is critical with full bins loaded at the rear of the truck and empty bins at the front for easy unloading.
“The hospitals are going through five to six times as much waste as before the coronavirus hit. It feels good helping out the hospitals especially when they’re getting overloaded. They always give me a ‘thank you’,” he says.
“Before the pandemic, I was doing 45 to 50 hours a week, and now it’s up to the 72 hours maximum that we can work each week. The long hours haven’t affected my enjoyment of it. I still love doing the job. I love getting out there and getting my hands dirty. I’m helping the company doing the extra hours but I’m also getting paid for it. It does take its toll and by Sunday I am pretty exhausted. But it’s still good fun.”
Contact us to learn more about a career making a sustainable future possible with Cleanaway.