Not your normal day at the office

By Amy McGillivray

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Most Bay residents have been relishing the hot, sunny days, but could you put up with working in extreme temperatures? Amy McGillivray talks to people who spend their days in hot and cold environments.

Welding in confined spaces means Glen Murphy often cannot escape the sweltering conditions he works in. Photo / Andrew Warner
Welding in confined spaces means Glen Murphy often cannot escape the sweltering conditions he works in. Photo / Andrew Warner

The setting of the office air-conditioning is often a contentious topic but some Tauranga workers have no choice but to put up with extreme heat or spend the day shivering.

Tauranga's hottest day so far has been January 3 with a high of 27C, says the Metservice. So far this month Tauranga hasn't had a day when the maximum temperature was lower than 22C.

The Bay of Plenty Times caught up with some who have among the hottest and coldest jobs in town.

Meanweld Engineers owner Glen Murphy has spent the last few days welding inside diesel tanks on a tug boat.

"I was sweating bullets. It's crazy hot," he said.

Handling a welding torch all day could make for warm conditions even when not in a confined space, he said.

"Your welding gloves can get a bit roast pork sort of thing when you're holding a welding rod.

They are made out of leather. They start to look all shrivelled up."

The gloves, overalls and mask worn by welders could also be uncomfortably hot in summer but Mr Murphy says, "Just wear some thin boxer shorts under your overalls and no T-shirt."

Instal Warmth owner Bob Toomey said crawling around in roof cavities could also be unbearably hot.

His insulation installers spent a lot of time in roof cavities that could reach temperatures of 60C in summer.

Such temperatures became a health and safety issue and was not something that could just be worked through, he said.

"The reality is if it's too hot, it's too hot. You just have to stop."

During the summer months his staff often started work at 6am or 7am to try to get as much done as possible before temperatures became unbearable.

"Sometimes in the mornings it can already be above 30C," Mr Toomey said.

The opposite was true for Port Pack and Cool Storage storeman Shanon Dickson.

He gears up in a cold-weather jacket before heading into the coolstores, which are set at -19C, and 4C fridges to load and unload goods.

"We can last in the freezer for about half an hour or 45 minutes before we start freezing up and the feet start getting a bit cool," he said.

Working in the chilly conditions was no problem in summer as you warmed up quickly once outside.

"You get to cool down every now and then. Its downfall is when you're geared up and come outside, you have to strip down."

Warming up in winter was more of a challenge. Mr Dickson said he often geared up about half an hour before heading into the freezers in winter to allow his clothes to heat up and keep him warm for longer.

Doug Jarvis, of Doug Jarvis Family Butchers, wears shorts and a singlet all year round despite working in wintry temperatures.

The butchery fridge was set at 0C and the workroom where meat was prepared was set between 10C and 15C, he said.

"I'm English, you see, so I'm used to it ... I've been doing it since I was 12 so you just get used to it."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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