Waders at work

Next time you pull on your waders for a spot of fly fishing fun, spare a thought for those hard at work in waders.

There are some occupations that rarely get mentioned when it comes to career advice. But these hidden heroes in waders put food on our tables and keep our environment clean.

Here we pay tribute to people who do the dirty jobs – so we don’t have to.

Sewer inspector

Waders sewer inspectors

Waders in waste waterPhoto by Squirrel Brand

Sewer inspectors have been around since Roman times.  The clever Romans invented these networks of subterranean tunnels to remove human and animal waste from built up areas, and they haven’t changed much since.  Wading through raw sewage looking for damage and blockages in a rat infested tunnel is not everyones idea of fun – and then of course there is the risk of suffocating in methane gas.  Job satisfaction?  Not likely.

Fish farmer

salmon fish farm

Waders work well in fish farmsPhoto by Sam Beebe

Salmon is the Scotland’s largest food export – with a retail value of a billion pounds.  Across the UK, one million fresh salmon meals are eaten every day and one million smoked salmon meals per week.  That’s a lot of salmon – about 150,000 tonnes a year. Hats off to the men and women who do the gutting, that’s another messy job.

Abattoir operative


White waders help ensure a clinically clean abattoirPhoto by Andrew Stawarz

Think of an abattoir and all sorts of gruesome images flood the mind.  But the modern animal processing plant is clean, efficient and in most cases, animal welfare is a top priority.  All the same – the person who cleans up afterwards deserves a cheer – it’s still a thoroughly messy job.

Tannery worker

Tannery waders

Waders would be welcome at a tanneryPhoto by Palindrome6996

Known since ancient times as an ‘odiferous trade’, tanning was – and in some place still is – relegated to the outskirts of town. Urine, quicklime, dog faeces, pigeon droppings, tallow and animal brains are all on the list of ingredients used during the process of turning animal skins into leather. Yep you’d want waders for that – and a nose peg too.

Refuse worker

refuse waders

Wading through refuse can be messy workPhoto by Mountaintidetech

The average family in the UK throws out somewhere in the region of five tonnes of rubbish every year. Thankfully much of this is now recycled – but it still needs to be collected, sorted and processed. Imagine wading through that lot, not a job for the squeamish.

Oil spill cleaner

oil spill waders

Oil spills cleaners need full protectionPhoto by U.S. Army Environmental Command

Volatile organic compounds released from oil spills pose a short term hazard to the health of cleanup workers – typically affecting lung, kidney, and liver functions. But you could, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department drink as much as a coffee cup of crude without suffering anything more serious than an upset stomach – but we wouldn’t want to try it.

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