Transportation Spotlight: Anthony Baxter
When did you start driving for Clean Earth, and what does your role entail?
I was hired in 2010 as a long-haul driver specifically to service our top customer exclusively. My role includes managing that customer directly through transporting their retail waste and damaged products from their locations to Clean Earth’s facility in Indianapolis, IN. This requires me to travel throughout the Midwest and East Coast; I’ve been everywhere from Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and even as far out as Maryland. My role has multiple components; I help our customer prepare shipments, ensuring all waste is classified properly, labeled accordingly and packaged for transport. I’ve been doing this for about 13 years, and I take my job very seriously because I’m transporting hazardous waste on the same roadways that my family and the family of others, travels on.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
One of my favorite parts is getting to visit different areas and learn about the areas I’m traveling through. Shippensburg, PA comes to mind as a place I’ve gotten to visit and really learn about the local culture. On top of travel, I really enjoy the face-to-face nature of my role. I get to interact with customers and other employees daily. It can be nice to have that interaction after I’ve spent hours driving alone.
Often, it’s drivers who are the most customer-facing entity of our company; how important is service excellence in maintaining customer relationships?
We hold the customers hand through the whole process. They are not hazardous waste experts, which is why they rely on us. They may have questions about certain products and classification, that I need to answer. If I don’t know the answer, I am prepared with the equipment and knowledge to do the research. Hazardous waste does not allow room for guessing. Not only are we helping the customer get rid of their waste, but in turn we are protecting their brand and keeping non-viable products out of the system, to ensure public health.
Why is attention to detail critical for your role?
My attention to detail is always on point. Driving a large vehicle on the highway requires 100 percent focus. This starts with pre-tripping your truck to ensure its properly placarded, as well as accounting for the necessary permits. It’s difficult to navigate traffic and other drivers, especially when hauling 40,000 pounds of hazardous waste, which is why my focus is so crucial. Furthermore, what people may not know, is that there are strict regulations that prohibit hazardous waste on certain roadways and tunnels, and through certain towns. When I’m completing a route, I must be aware of these regulations in case I need to avoid a tunnel or bypass a town.
How do you incorporate safety into your role?
Safety is paramount. Having a commercial license requires extensive training and skill since I’m operating a large vehicle. I ensure I keep up on all my required training, including what Clean Earth requires and DOT requirements. I am considered a specialist in my field which means I must remain familiar with DOT, RCRA and EPA regulations, as they all pertain to the safe transport of hazardous waste products. Although a lot of the products I’m dealing with are what you would find in a store, when they are classified as waste they fall under another set of regulations as to how they can be transported. They must be secured, in specific containers in compliance with regulations in order to safeguard others.
How do you encourage others to partake in safe practices?
I encourage everyone to survey their surroundings. Not only are you responsible for your own safety, but you must be cautious for the safety of others. Whether it’s an employee driving a forklift, the guard shack as you’re pulling out of the facility, or a little kid in the car driving next to you. If you don’t take the time to make sure you’re following safe practices, then you’re letting everyone around you down and putting them at risk.