We all know the phrase “It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it”. But the truth is there are lots of jobs just like this – which the rest of us depend on to keep basic services running, or even to keep us healthy.
1. Sewage Workers
Most of us might happily flush the toilet and forget about it – but unfortunately the waste doesn’t just disappear! What goes down the loo ends up in the sewers, and intrepid sewage workers have to deal with the results – which is obviously a smelly and extremely unpleasant task. Specialist “flushers” have the task of removing blockages, which are often massive build-ups of fat, caused by people chucking the wrong kind of waste into toilets and drains. This usually hidden job gained TV exposure when The One Show presenter Alex Jones took the plunge for Children in Need, and showed her dismay as she descended into the stinking depths, yelping and gasping – but bravely got on with the job.
As well as removing stinking nappies and sanitary products wrongly flushed down the drain, intrepid sewage workers also have to put up with rats and cockroaches, all in a day’s work!
2. Pest Controllers
Rats! The sight of just one is enough to get most of us running away in a panic, to stay at a safe distance untilthe problem has been dealt with. Mice are likely to get a similar reaction, along with swarms of wasps, hornets or bees. But spare a thought for the men and women who have the task of getting rid of these creepy creatures and stinging insects, as well as fleas, cockroaches and even bed bugs.
Pest controllers need to be ready for anything, from working at heights to remove nesting pigeons to coping with hundreds of rodents in a single heavy infestation. As well as staying calm when faced with the pests themselves, these highly-skilled experts also need to be unfazed by working with chemicals and gases when necessary.
3. Refuse Collectors and Recycling Workers
Now that rubbish is collected fortnightly in many areas, it can become rather smelly in summer. There’s also a risk of maggots breeding in bins if people have thrown out food without wrapping it up properly, along with nappies, bags of dog poo and much more. This is none too pleasant for either the binmen and women charged with collecting our household rubbish, or the teams based at recycling centres who have the task of sorting it all out.
Recycling materials such as paper and plastic should be clean and dry in theory, but sometimes people put all kinds of items in these bins and bags that don’t belong there, making the vital job of our refuse collectors even dirtier!
4. Fish Processors
Fish and chips is one of Britain’s most popular dishes, and there are also many other fish dishes millions of us enjoy, from a tuna sandwich to a seafood casserole. However, skinning and gutting fish is enough to put you off your dinner, with the smell alone making this a career choice to think over twice. The task is even worse when it needs to be done on an industrial scale, but thousands of people do it for a living, either in fish processing plants or aboard ship.
You definitely need a strong stomach for this task, which also involves sorting and grading the fish and clearing away waste, and has to be carried out fast because fish are highly perishable. However, as anybody tucking into a fish supper will agree, it’s a job we couldn’t do without.
5. Ductwork Cleaning Operative
From the local chippy to a double Michelin Star establishment, all cooking creates grime and grease which builds up in kitchen extract ducts. Cleaning these ducts is the job of specialist cleaners, who, as well as needing a strong stomach, also need to be pretty brave into the bargain, crawling into small spaces or even abseiling up and down vertical shafts and then carrying out thorough cleaning. Well-run restaurants will have their ducts cleaned on a regular basis, preventing too much build-up of dirt.
But every so often these brave people will need to attend to ductwork which has been sorely neglected, perhaps for many years. As well as bad smells and a lot of gloopy grease build-up, they may also face dangerous levels of mould, bacteria and even live vermin – all in a confined space. But their work is vital to protect kitchen employees and diners from harmful contamination. Dinner, anyone?
Kate Hughes writes for Ingot Services who provide a full range of commercial cleaning services including kitchen extract cleaning.