Less than a year into her role at our Gladstone Recycling Plant, Intake Operator, Kelli White, is showing what it takes to get the job done and done well.
Looking for a more fulfilling role after returning from her extended maternity leave, the Gladstone local was in the right place at the right time to have her wish granted.
Working as a contract cleaner at the Gladstone Plant, Kelli was overheard commenting on her desire for a fresh challenge when Supervisor, Rod Campbell, having seen her good work ethic, offered Kelli an opportunity on the spot.
Although she is the only female operator at the Plant, working in what has traditionally been a male-dominated occupation, Kelli says this hasn’t held her back.
“Sometimes you get people who are used to working mainly with men arrive at site with their trucks full of scrap metal, and question whether that I’m the one going to unload their delivery. But I just tell them ‘Yes, I am’ and then get on with the job.”
Kelli loves the crew she works with who have been supportive of her from the get-go.
“Our team is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about my role. They are hugely supportive of one another and are always willing to pass on their knowledge.
“Although also challenging, the fact that you are learning something new all the time is another reason I enjoy what I’m doing. Working with a team that helps me grow and develop as an operator makes my work very fulfilling,” said Kelli.
When asked about the safety culture at Gladstone, Kelli said the site has top-notch safety standards, with safety protocols in place for everything, for staff, contractors, and customers.
“We all have each other’s back and look out for one another. No one is afraid to speak up or intervene if they see you doing something they feel can be done in a safer way. We all just want to make sure we go home safe to our loved ones each night.”
The Gladstone Recycling site’s Branch Manager, Mark Perry, said Kelli is doing extremely well considering the short time she has been doing the job.
“It’s not an easy role. There are many elements to it and Kelli picked it up really quickly by asking all the right questions. She’s also not just doing the ferrous work but moving from the machines to the non-ferrous work and weighbridge. The development of her skill set in the time frame is actually quite incredible. It’s great to have her on the team,” said Mark.
Kelli’s two young children are proud of their Mum’s work and love hearing stories about what she does on a day-to-day basis.
“My kids, Laylah and Elijah, can’t hear enough about my work, especially the machines I operate and the big trucks we have come in. Both would love to do what I do and work where I work one day.
“It makes me very proud both as a Mum and a woman to be doing what I do. I’m proud that I’m one of the women at InfraBuild doing a role that is helping break stereotypes. If another woman asked me if they should do a job like mine, my advice would be to go for it”.
The goals that the Gladstone team achieve offer another source of pride to Kelli.
“I think people would be surprised to learn about some of our achievements. Only recently the team handled over 8,100 tonnes of product over just four days for export shipping.
“I couldn’t have asked to be part of a better crew and I’m thankful every day I was offered this position and decided to dive headfirst into this exciting career change”.
A day in the life of an Intake Operator at Gladstone Recycling Plant
A day at Gladstone starts with the daily toolbox meeting to go through the work plans for the day and the current safety focus.
The Operators then grab all their gear – hard hats, gloves, keys etc – and head out to undertake the pre-start machine checks on their respective machines. This involves checking everything is in order including that water and oil are topped up.
The team then start unloading the deliveries, moving the scrap into the relevant scrap piles with the excavator material handler.
If there are no trucks to unload, they make room for more scrap in the various scrap piles.
After a busy morning, the team then have lunch in the break room before they return to their vehicles and do another quick check to look for any issues or damage from the morning’s work.
The afternoon is similar to the morning with more scrap deliveries unloaded and moved into scrap piles.
The team also clear out the scrap from the oxy-cutting bays and load the cut scrap into the various scrap piles. New scrap is then laid ready for the oxy-cutting team to cut the next day.
The day ends with making sure the roads are clear of any scrap, and everything is isolated and locked up, ready for another busy day tomorrow.
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