Disgusting work hazards

So it’s spring break week, and the animal anatomy professor decided to clean out 10 weeks worth of accumulated dead cow and horse parts from the freezer in the room across the hall from my office.

Oh. My. God. There’ve been very few times in my life when I seriously thought the smell of something was going to make me hurl, but this came close.

Nasty! At least he’d done now and the smell is starting to dissipate.

Anybody else with fun work hazards?

Not my job, but when I was teaching, the animal bits freezer for the neuroscience types in the same building was off for several days due to a power failure. Very dead rats don’t smell a bit better than very dead cows, let me tell you. I was pregnant at the time, too.

For the past 9 years, though, I’ve worked at research facilities connected with medical types and have to take all the trainings on handling biohazards and such when the only “sharp” I’m likely to be handling is a paper clip.

It’s not my job personally, I’m glad to say, but the gov’t safety agency I support has received reports from people who inspect the water-filled pools of abandoned industrial waste and nuclear fuel at some of the waste repositories left over from the cold war.

Imagine a room-sized pool full of broken industrial machinery, power lines, pipes jutting…containers of hazardous chemicals lie about…now some containers of hot nuclear waste are added to the pool. Allow 50 years for the metals to rust, and break, and become jagged…for the very atoms of the containers to become different elements through nuclear bombardment…for all manner of chemical and heavy-metal slime to be deposited in a muck that will be stirred into blinding clouds by movement.

No records exist that fully explain what’s in the pools. Now it’s time to clean them up.

They sent DIVERS into those pools.



I’m a public librarian downtown in a medium-sized city. We’ve had everything from babies born in the bathroom to dead bodies. The most common “disgusting work hazard” is the hygiene of some of our indigent patrons. Honestly, I don’t even notice nasty smells anymore, mostly. You’ve really got to reek for me to notice you these days. (Of course, some of them are real smell overachievers.) And there’s always something really, really gross going on in the bathrooms.

Similar here. I work at a large law firm and my office is on the same floor as our mailroom, so we get tons of messengers, delivery people and other third parties.

The men’s room is often a sight to behold. If you can’t aim, lift the damn seat when you pee, or at least wipe up after yourself.

There’s a big lever on each toilet. It flushes the toilet. Please use it. We have those industrial strength jet toilets that will suck 50 feet of hemp rope down with no problem. Nothing worse than opening a stall door and finding the bowl full of somebody’s last meal…

…except for finding feces all over the toilet seat. I don’t even want to know how that happens but if it’s a common occurence for somebody they need to carry a bottle of bleach with them, for chrissakes.

Not on the same scale as decades-old atomic waste but still pretty damn vile.

I work in a video store.

People, the DVDs are not coasters, frisbees, dinner plates, dog toys, baby toys, doorstops, or turntable records, I swear to you for real.


When I worked in a used book store I found a dried-out (but obviously used) condom tucked away in a book. Blechhhh.

Once, a co-worker (work= vet hospital) asked me to hold a patient that she was playing with. I think they let her hold it because it was a stray, and they were hoping she’d take it home. I said I’d hold it for her while she went to the restroom. the dog peed on me. I handed it to another receptionist to hang onto while I changed into some scrubs. It peed on him. I saw him on the way to the locker room in the hallway, returning the puppy to its student, as it peed again. :rolleyes:

I still don’t know what they had that dog on, but damn!

Still, its better than the time when I worked at the Feline Genetics Research center, and a persian peed on my face. It was a male from about 2 feet away. They had told me that he was blind, but I don’t see how a blind-since-birth cat could have that kind of aim. I think he tricked them all.

Definitely not up to the standards of the others in this thread, but…

While I was in the Navy, someone found in one of the engineering spaces a yellow poly bag filled with feces. Now, one of the assumptions we make is that anything that is in yellow PVC is radioactive. So, we had a nice loaf, sealed in this bag, complete with a proper, air-tight seal. But, in general, we were also supposed to reduce the amount of rad waste we generated. Disposing of biological and radioactive waste was even more expensive than disposing simply of rad waste, so the Chief Engineer decided that someone was going to have to scan the waste and see if it could be cleared as being non-contaminated.

Which meant that the waste had to be spread out so that the probe on the detector could get within 1/4 inch of all surfaces of the material.

Volunteers were solicited. The division, to a man, remembered the real meaning of NAVY: Never Again Volunteer Yourself. Eventually the LCPO of the division decided that he didn’t quite have the chutzpah to make it an order, and did it himself.

But the stink of that incident took a couple of days to die down.

Ah, Life in the Pharmacy. People attempt to hand me sharps and blood-covered test strip bottles nearly every day. They never inform me before the fact, but thrust it upon me and say “DO YOU CARRY THIS KIND???”. Uh, yeah. Just place it on the counter. I can see it from here. Thanks.

Also, they want me to diagnose their weird skin rash or possible lice infestation while getting thisclose to me. “All my kids have lice and their friends caught lice at school and the dog’s gotten lice and my head is itchy…can you see if there’s white eggs in there?” I can almost feel the damn things jumping off of them and onto me. :::shudder:::

Finding evidence of peoples porn habits on their PCs.


Hasn’t happened for a while, because I don’t generally do that sort of work now.

I rebuilt a laptop someone at church had just purchased - I don’t know what or who the previous owner was or did but … jeepers.

I worked on another friends laptop, too, and found … stuff … I didn’t want to see. He was embarrassed, I was “oh, it was probably the viruses downloading stuff” - but it wasn’t, he knew it and I knew it.

But I have also done a couple of investigations into Internet misuse - gathering evidence and suchlike. The worst bit was recovering the guys mailbox to find the … self-portraits … he sent to some woman who may or may not have been his wife. I knew (and liked) the guy, too.

The second investigation concerned a guy who’s fetish was coprophagia. I got some representative images and stopped looking. I had enough evidence and I wasn’t looking for more.


Well?! Was it radioactive poo or not?!

Spring is a work hazard…

This winter I have been running a Board and Train service at the obedience club. This place has approx. 500 dogs come through for classes each week, and a few hundred more for weekend events.

We have one little hill for pottying the dogs.

The snow is melting, and evidence that a whole LOTTA people did not clean up after their dogs is surfacing. Yeeccch. Better clean that tomorrow.

The poo was clean. (Well, technically, the poo expressed no increased counts over background radiation.)

The most common hazards are going into residents’ homes, or turning their apartments after they move out. I recently worked in one where my co-worker refused to rescreen a patio door because it was covered with urine. So was the carpet, the toilet, the bathtub, the bathroom floor. Probably the sink, too, but I didn’t inspect that too closely. Ah the patio itself reeked of piss, also. Even pressure-washing didn’t help any.

Mold is a big one, too. A lot of folks apparently never clean their tubs, or tell us when they have had a faucet leaking underneath for months.

There’s been a time or two that I’ve had a work order to unjam a garbage disposal, put my hand inside to grab whatever it was (it’s the easiest way, really) just to find a pile of broken glass. Thanks for warning me, guy!

Cleaning up outside is always fun. I’ve found dead birds (sometimes decapitated by something), dead fish, dead rats, dead cats, packages of rotting meat from the grocery store, broken beer bottles, used condoms, drug items. Loads of dog poop, too, but I’ve so far managed to avoid cleaning that up. I also get to deal with emptying dumpsters and cleaning up around our compactors. Mmmm trashy goodness.

Lastly there’s just the hazards that aren’t related to residents. Heavy lifting kinds of things - doors, washers, dryers, dishwashers, etc. I’m a clumsy one and routinely run into things, or drop stuff (I’m shocked that I haven’t lost any fingers or toes). Right now I have 3 bleeding gashes on my hands (and a number of non-bleeding cuts) from yesterday and today. I haven’t a clue where I got them.
So there’s little things that don’t look like much on their own, but they add up right quick.

ETA: I almost forgot! With my job, there’s always the risk of walking in on naked people! :smiley:

When I was doing direct care of individuals with significant disabilities, there was always the poop factor, which was bad enough. But a lot of these folks were in day programs, and every so often, we’d get a notice that someone in the day program had scabies and if our clients were exposed, then of course staff was as well.

It was then that I realized the serious problem with the wage structure in Human Services. If I’m going to have to deal with scabies, I damn well had better be making more than 8 bucks an hour.

For sheer ick factor, it was very accidentally sticking my hand into what I think was pure chicken manure while cashiering at a greenhouse (years ago.) That was a stench that scrubbing did NOT remove.

I also get the stinky-people in my library. One man (all 500+ pounds of him) reeked so bad that I had to leave and purchase air freshener to remove the lingering funk. Eww.

This thread is making my memories of grease traps* pale in comparison… Thanks, I think.

(Grease trap: A kind of restaurant septic tank, generally overfilled with malodorous food waste, that will inevitably overflow during evening rush.)

This thread makes me so glad that I got out of the service/retail industry. Working at a grocery store was usually not that gross. But there were times like when I’d have to clean out a stuck dumpster at midday in July. Or cleaning up vomit or in the bathroom after a man…detonated.

Giardia dog/cat diarrhea. In addition to the disgusting aspect it’s also a zoonotic hazard. You don’t want to get giardia, trust me on this.

Parvo dog diarrhea. Seriously, this stuff could be used as a biological weapon.

Anal glands. Another potential bioweapon. We should get hazard pay for expressing the glands, always be careful where you stand and wear gloves. If you get it on you, no one will come near you for the rest of the day. You won’t even want to be near you.

Saliva. I’m not talking a little drool here, I am talking the stuff that comes out of those giant breed dogs that hangs to the floor from their mouths in long ropy strands and could be used as industrial strength glue. Cleaning this stuff up is like trying to wrestle with The Blob, I swear it has a life of it’s own.

Pigeon flies: Hippoboscid flies. We often get wild birds brought to us. These flies majorly creep me out. It’s something about the way they scurry around on the bird and then fly off the bird and STRAIGHT TOWARD YOUR FACE! OMG! GET IT OFF ME!

Abscess juice and necrotic tissue. Do I need to explain? I hope not. But just to clarify a little, the chunkier the abscess is, the stinkier it is and if it’s an anal gland abscess it’s especially foul since you get the two combined smells. Had one of those right after lunch yesterday after a chicken parmegian sub. Infections and necrosis that have been fermenting inside a body cavity can get really nasty, it’s a special kind of decomposition smell. As an example, a c-section/spay where the puppies had actually died days before.

Speaking of decomposition; The pet that died out in the yard in the heat of the summer (this is Florida and it gets pretty damn hot) and the owner doesn’t bring him in to us for cremation until several hours or days later. “Are you absolutely sure you don’t want to bury him in your backyard?”

Maggots. Specifically maggots in wounds and orifices where they don’t belong. As the most experienced vet tech in the place, you’d think I’d learn to run from the room when I recognize the smell, but no, I actually have to look at the animal to confirm it and then when I look up the treatment room is empty of other staff, crickets are chirping, doors are swinging in the wind and I’m stuck doing the wound care/maggot removal. Seriously, sometimes even the vet disappears “Here give them this and this. puts some meds down on the treatment table whilst keeping a distance You seem to have it under control, I need to … uh … see another patient, yeah that’s the ticket.”

Tom Cat pee. The top potential bioweapon. Although it doesn’t leave you wretching like the nasty diarrheas and vomit, it makes your eyes burn and water, your nose hairs curl up and die, your sense of smell lose go insane and attempt to strangle your brain and your lungs try to escape your body and head for the hills and the smell … never … goes … away.