The Dirtiest Jobs in the Oil Industry and Beyond

Look at any list of toughest jobs on the planet and you are sure to see the oil industry mentioned at least once – from extraction to refinement, no part of the process is a clean one. That said, we’ve decided to highlight some of the dirtiest occupations within the business and illustrate exactly why the oil industry has such a gritty reputation.

TOUGHEST AND DIRTIEST JOBS IN THE OIL INDUSTRY

Of course we’ve all heard that the job of an “oil rig worker” can be tough and dangerous but it’s important to know that there are many positions on any given rig – some that are white collar management and some down-right dirty jobs that are described below.

1. Maintenance Roustabout:
Ranking as the low-man on the oil rig totem pole, the position of “maintenance roustabout” is probably the worst job to land on any oil rig. In addition to battling the common dangers of working any rig (inclement weather, remote locations and boiling hot pressurized liquids that could explode at any moment), this role is by far the least glamorous. In fact, performing all kinds of thankless tasks including swabbing the decks, removing rust, shuttling other workers to and from the rig and general oil rig upkeep, this entry-level position stays the busiest and gets paid the least.

IMG SOURCE: http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/knue.com/files/2011/02/oil-rig-worker.jpg

2. Roughnecks:
Believe it or not, the next step up from being a “roustabout” is being promoted to an oil rig “roughneck” – sounds glamorous huh? Not to be confused with a common redneck, in addition to continuing some of the old danger-ridden responsibilities, roughnecks work on rig floor machinery and in the mud room, assembling and dismantling a variety of pipes and drills that are absolutely caked with petroleum byproduct and far from spotless.

IMG SOURCE: http://www.bugwing.com/blog56.jpg

3. Rig Painter:
The profession of exterior painting has never been synonymous with cleanliness – which is especially true when being performed on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. To put it simply, oil rig painters are in charge of the never-ending task of keeping the rig looking good, however, they’re often faced with blustery wind, harsh conditions and precarious positions. Yes, as if dangling from scaffolding on a clear sunny day wasn’t risky enough, this job is proof that you don’t even have to touch the oil to have it qualify as a tough and dirty job.

IMG SOURCE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5204/5268105441_fae62da742.jpg

4. Rig Welder:
Standing as further proof that one doesn’t ever have to come in contact with the oil itself in order to hold one of the dirtiest jobs in the oil industry, oil rig welders are no stranger to dirt, grime and wicked conditions. Responsible for day-to-day metal repairs and the construction of new metalwork, the welder’s job is never done as they are constantly on the move. Couple that continuous movement with the heat and fumes derived from the welding process and you’ve got yourself a job that is not for the faint at heart. Oh, and like the painters, don’t forget that these guys are often hanging on for their lives!

IMG SOURCE: http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BF708_OILRIG_G_20100427191305.jpg

5. Oil Spill Cleanup Crew:
Taking a break from the oil rig rigors for a moment, perhaps one of the dirtiest jobs in all of oil arises from an oil spill – although manmade, a natural disaster in its own right. If you’ve ever gotten oil on your hands or on your clothes then you can appreciate how difficult the clean-up process must be. Because it soaks into the soil, blends with the water and covers the wildlife in its path, there really is no system for simply sucking up the oil all at once and, therefore, the process for cleaning up such a disaster is a dirty, dirty responsibility.

IMG SOURCE: http://bowiebobcats.edublogs.org/files/2010/07/oil-spill-1.jpg

6. Director of PR:
Of course, with every oil spill, it’s worth mentioning that the one in charge of concocting a positive spin on such a disaster must make for the toughest job of them all. Take the somewhat recent Gulf Coast oil spill for example, while the roustabouts and roughnecks are definitely up to their ears in the muck, the director of PR for BP must be feeling a similar degree of difficulty, only compounded by being in the public eye.

IMG SOURCE: http://www.csmonitor.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/0610-hayward-bp-message/8096734-1-eng-US/0610-hayward-BP-message_full_600.jpg

HONORABLE MENTION: TOUGHEST AND DIRTIEST JOBS ELSEWHERE

The oil industry certainly boasts its fair share of dirty jobs but it’s not totally alone in that category. Below are some dirty jobs of honorable mention from other industries – you be the judge of which are deemed the dirtiest!

1. Coal Mining:
If you thought working on an oil rig in the middle of the open ocean was a hostile environment, ask a coal miner their opinion on the matter. Considered to be another of the most dangerous jobs in the world, mining for this other source of energy is performed in harsh underground conditions that are dark, damp, cold and above all else, dirty. In addition to the risk of cave-ins or explosions-gone-wild, everything is inevitably coated with a layer of black coal dust, including the lining of your lungs.

IMG SOURCE: http://www.theipinionsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/coala.jpg

2. Sewer Cleaner:
While extracting raw, natural resources from the earth is always a dirty job, perhaps it’s a cleaner job than trudging around in human waste? Yes, just as the name suggests, working under extremely vile conditions with continuous contact with fecal matter (and whatever else is flushed down the toilet), those unfortunate few that are put in charge of maintaining sewage lines are truly performing a job for the few and not-so-proud.

Note: While the sewer cleaners in more developed countries have ample protective gear, it is reported that a sewer cleaner in Calcutta performs the job with just the clothes on his back, all for about three bucks a day.
IMG SOURCE: http://www.tenorama.com/sites/default/files/foto/imagen_9.png

3. Trash Auditor:
Because recycled goods are ultimately bundled in mass quantities and sold in bulk to manufacturers, they must reach a certain level of “purity” – glass can’t be slathered in peanut butter and cardboard can’t be caked with pepperoni and cheese. It must be a pure sample. That said, everything that you put into your recycling bin undergoes an audit and some very unfortunate individual actually sifts through it by hand, picking out the pure and discarding the rest. Imagine the disgusting stuff they must see!

IMG SOURCE: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-e2cwO6qN2j8/T0WZR-MMC_I/AAAAAAAAAGU/GVoxH_5J2a4/s1600/Hebron+garbage+dump.jpg

4. Temporary Toilet Maintenance:
Last but not least on the honorable mention list of dirty jobs is the brave men and women in charge of Porta-Potty maintenance. Whether it’s Porta-Potty, Honey Bucket, Schultz or any other brand of temporary toilet, we all know the terror involved in going into one of these things – well, imagine if it was your profession to maintain them! While you might be lucky enough to not come into physical contact with the human waste that has been collected within, there are enough variables involved to make this a dirty job, from top to bottom.

IMG SOURCE: http://www.porta-potty-rental.com/

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at some of the dirtiest jobs in the oil industry and beyond. Next time you’re complaining about your cushy desk job, we invite you to revisit this list and remind yourself that it could be worse!