SELKIRK refuse collector Martin Turnbull and three of his Scottish Borders Council colleagues have been praised by a top trade journal, writes Andrew Keddie.
John Henderson of Transport News spent a day with two crews of binmen as he road-tested their of state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Econic refuse collection vehicles (RCVs).
The magazine, recognised in the trade as a market-leader, is aimed at transport buyers in Scotland and the north of England and regularly publishes test reports on vehicles.
Mr Henderson was given leave to drive the recent acquisitions, linking up with Martin, right, and his colleague Dougie Arberry on a collection round in Darnick.
Aside from the technical merits of the vehicles, Mr Henderson offers an insight into a day in the life of the binmen.
At the last full council meeting, vice-convener Ron Smith described the article as “a superb endorsement of the work our refuse collection staff carry out day in, day out, in our communities.”
In his article, John Henderson wrote: “There’s an old Scottish question: ‘Who is the more important – the doctor or the dustman?’
“The answer is, of course, that we rely on both in equal measure. A day shared with two crews from Scottish Borders Council opened my eyes to the variety of mental and physical demands put on their drivers and bin loaders.
“My stints behind the wheel as a novice required huge levels of concentration. In addition to constantly monitoring the movement of pedestrians and other vehicles while starting and stopping in busy streets, an equal safety consideration must be given to your fellow bin loaders.
“These guys move fast and before lifting and emptying can commence, the truck must have the handbrake engaged and neutral selected. A rear camera monitor proves invaluable.
“Before each drive, I received detailed safety guidelines from the crews in addition to a comprehensive explanation of each Econic and its features. While on the move, I was staggered at the high level of support, communication and teamwork by the lads who literally looked out for everybody who came anywhere near the truck, whether passing pedestrians or home owners keen to retrieve their now empty wheelie bins.
“The teams’ knowledge of every inch of the route came in handy when negotiating narrow streets and blind corners whilst, often as not, one would jump out and offer guiding assistance if there was the slightest indication of a potential hazard.
“Besides this dedication to health and safety, the Border teams’ commitment to their community was clear to see. Some elderly or infirm residents cannot present bins at the roadside, so each relevant garden was checked meticulously before moving on.
“The younger residents of the region were not forgotten either as, despite the busy schedules, we still had time to return some enthusiastic waves from a group of passing nursery school children.
“My grateful thanks go to Dougie Arberry, Wullie Hay, Jaydee Sharkey and Martin Turnbull. It was both a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside these professionals.”