These Are The 15 Worst Jobs To Have In A Heatwave

Man working in a kitchen in a heatwave

Bad news… even if temperatures soar above 40 degrees in the UK, you legally have to stay in work.

Recent news has suggested Britain could hit a whopping 41 degrees in the next month as part of a heatwave. Whilst the UK has a minimum legal temperature that you can work in, believe it or not, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 do not state a maximum. 

During a heatwave in the UK, most can only dream of packing away their laptops or toolkits and heading to the park for an ice cream, but tough luck. The reality is that you are required to stay at work. For those stuck in a stuffy office with poor air-conditioning and sealed windows – compared to a high proportion of the nation, it’s probably not THAT bad. Believe it or not, office jobs aren’t the worst jobs to have during a scorching day, so which are?

During heat waves in the workplace, it’s important to consider you have onsite first aiders who have completed emergency first aid in the workplace training. Likewise, those working with the application of heat using tools in or around machinery or buildings will need to undertake hot works passport training in order to obtain a hot works permit. In heat waves, the risks become even greater.

With a heatwave approaching, CE Safety has rounded up 15 of the WORST jobs in the UK to have during a heatwave and how much they earn on average per year:

1. Kitchen staff £19,500

Some would say “if you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen”, and this is the unfortunate truth of hospitality workers in summer. Some kitchens have previously reported temperatures as high as 55 degrees, with workers regularly enduring extremely high temperatures without any legal protection or rights. Some kitchens have no working extractor fans or air-conditioning systems which makes conditions even more difficult.

2. Fish and chip shop fryer £20,503

As the nation’s favourite, fish and chips are hugely popular throughout the UK. Chip shop fryers are constantly stood next to baking hot deep-fat fryers which are usually above 180 degrees. To make things worse, chippy workers are also responsible for changing the oil in machines which can vary from five to 25 uses depending on the manufacturer’s advice – meaning a high proportion of their day is spent in boiling hot kitchens doing pretty manual work.

3. Refuse collector £21,135

Being responsible for the nation’s waste comes at a cost, especially when there’s a heatwave involved. Bin men are not only exposed to physically intensive lifting, they also have to deal with everything intensifying when the warm weather causes the rubbish to get hot and the almighty stench is unleashed.

4. Poultry production operative £21,578

Poultry processing and slaughtering work are considered to be some of the most dangerous jobs in the country, never mind the added heat. Work is fast-paced, and intense on production lines where staff are expected to quickly pluck and package chickens in over 20-degree temperatures. Many chicken factory production operatives have reported extreme working conditions as well as suffering heat-related illnesses.

5. Recycling plant operative £22,347

Working with heavy machinery and sorting endless recycling when people couldn’t be bothered to do it properly is a labour-intensive job at any time of year, but it can become increasingly uncomfortable as temperatures rise.

6. Crematorium assistant £22,987

Heatproof suits, thick gloves, and face masks are the uniform of the last person to handle a loved one – the job is difficult as it is, but what about when there’s a heatwave on the horizon? Crematorium assistants are exposed to constant high temperatures when a coffin goes in to be burned, the actual chamber reaches around 1,800 degrees, so there’s no wonder working conditions can become unbearable when we hit a heatwave.

7. Zookeeper £22,977

Working outdoors could be considered the absolute dream job in British summertime, but not if you’re a zookeeper. Zookeepers have it pretty rough in the heat, even if they’re working around the Penguin pool. With daily jobs including cleaning full animal enclosures, carrying huge bags of heavy food, and manual labour when working on renovating the enclosures, this isn’t a job for the faint of heart!

8. Welder £25,000

Person welding in a hot factory on a hot day

Day-to-day duties for welders include creating and repairing products by using heat to fuse metal together. The heat of welding can be unbearable alone, but coupled with heavy-duty protective clothing, harsh working environments and high ambient temperatures – and you soon realise that welders have it extremely difficult. Welders directly face the risk of hot works, which means their work involves naked flames or the production of heat or sparks.

9. London Underground transport and maintenance worker £25,819

As a central function of the Big Smoke’s activity, the London Underground is boiling even in the winter months due to the depth of the tunnels. As well as uncomfortable crowded situations, TFL operatives have to deal with poorly ventilated tube tunnels with temperatures as high as 47 degrees.

10. Builder £26,297

Person cutting metal on a warm building site

Whether working on a construction site or in a domestic setting, builders, construction workers and roofers cannot escape the heat if they’re working through a heatwave. From repairing structural damage to building an extension from scratch, the task at hand is always labour intensive and directly under sunlight. During a heatwave, builders work 30+ degree conditions without the option of finding some shade, putting them at risk of sunburn and sunstroke.

11. Road construction operative £30,764

This job is extremely hands-on, and workers are expected to continue their daily activity even when temperatures skyrocket. Due to the nature of this role, it is completely based outdoors even in the summer months when temperatures can reach highs of beyond 35 degrees. Operating and maintaining heavy construction equipment in these conditions can potentially cause dehydration and fatigue, nevermind sunburn.

12. Power plant engineer £36,421

Maintenance of machinery in an environment where the burning of materials can soar to over 500 degrees is tough work in the heat. Power plant engineers are also required to wear heavy protective clothing to ensure their safety which adds to the heat.

13. Air conditioning engineer £36,035

Having cooling air conditioning is rare in the UK, but having a broken air-con system when the temperatures hit above 30 degrees requires someone to come and fix it is a nightmare. HVAC engineers work in sweltering conditions crawling through air vents in above 20-degree temperatures.

14. Steel worker £37,287

Manual labour doesn’t really get more manual than this – the standard day-to-day job for a steelworker relies heavily on endurance and adding boiling hot temperatures into the mix adds another layer of difficulty. Workers are expected to build and install iron steel girders as well as make, weld and cut structural metal, where they’re exposed to temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees.

15. Fatberg/sewage flusher £45,000

This is quite possibly the most disgusting job on the list. We’ve all seen the photos of fatbergs the size of a bus in the river Thames, but imagine being the person responsible for moving it. Flushers are required to crawl into small pipe systems with very low ventilation and when temperatures are high this can become extremely uncomfortable not to mention smell absolutely horrendous.

15 worst jobs ranked by salary

So, are there any laws around this? 

The Workplace Health Safety and Welfare Regulations state that employers must keep a minimum working temperature 16 degrees, or 13 degrees if your work involves considerable physical activity. These aren’t absolute laws, meaning the employer does have responsibility to ensure the working conditions are appropriate for the activity.  

The regulation doesn’t include a maximum working temperature, due to the high temperatures found in some of the environments mentioned previously. This means that it can be hard to claim your work is ‘too hot’ to work and be backed by the law or any legislation.  

What are the side effects on your body?

According to health experts, high workplace temperatures can affect employees in a multitude of ways. Working in high heat can mean the body finds it difficult to regulate its own temperature, which can then result in exhaustion, dizziness, and fainting. 

Although it is the responsibility of employers to maintain safe conditions within the workplace by allowing for regular breaks and access to water, ensure you take responsibility for keeping yourself hydrated. 

For First Aid training or advice surrounding the use of hot works get in touch.