Sharee Tillbrook – Plant Operator, NEWS

Sharee Tillbrook is a Plant Operator at the NEWS waste transfer station in King’s Lynn. Her role involves stockpiling incoming waste from Norfolk, and its surrounding districts, and carrying out loading operations for onward disposal to incinerators across the UK.

This International Women’s Day, Sharee shares her experience as a woman working in the waste industry.

My career began just under three years ago. I was self-employed running my own cleaning and housekeeping business, but I saw an opportunity come up at the waste transfer station in King’s Lynn, so I went ahead and applied.

NEWS operates three waste transfer stations within Norfolk – at Aylsham, Caister and King’s Lynn. These facilities provide drop-off and bulking operations for waste collected by the Councils and NEWS arranges the onward transportation of various waste streams for treatment or disposal.

My role involves weighbridge duties including adhering to legal requirements for on road and disposal vehicles, duty of care, and traffic management of articulated vehicles and Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCV). I also stockpile incoming waste with a 20-tonne articulated loading shovel and a 25-tonne excavator type material handler. The waste is loaded on to articulated vehicles and taken out to the incinerators.

Initially, it was quite intimidating as the waste industry is very male orientated – particularly in lorry driving. However, we run a small site, so I had lots of support and close contact with the NEWS management team on a regular basis. Knowledge of the industry and operations has helped my confidence grow and the daily Supervisor based on site has supported me in any difficult situations. The site is small and the large mobile plant operates alongside Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV), it could be a hazardous environment to work in if not controlled by us as a team on site.

One of the highlights of my career is the recent removal and installation of new 10 tonne weighbridge at the transfer station in Kings Lynn. This took place over one weekend with heavy equipment and 100 tonne cranes – something completely new for me to get involved in!

My greatest achievement has been attaining heavy plant licences for the Loading Shovel, 360 Materials Handler, 7-metre Telehandler and 8-Wheel Roll on Off Shunter vehicle. I have also received an IOSH Safety Certificate.

Overall, I have found the waste industry – and especially NEWS – to be very interesting and enjoyable. It is hard work at times, but I am loving every minute.

Sharee's Words of Affirmation:

"Just go for it! Go into this industry with an open mind because it is a male orientated environment and is very different to working in an office."

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