Nicole - Cleanup Workers Living the "Crude Life"

Thank you for viewing my presentation. Here's what I would like to know from you: What did you hear about the oil spill cleanup and the workers?

To respond to my prompt and to submit any additional comments, questions or personal accounts related to my speech topic, please post in my discussion forum on the “
Oil Spill Anniversary Conference” Facebook page. If you do not have a Facebook account, please e-mail me at instead from your personal e-mail account. Please put my name in the e-mail title, so I’m sure to receive your message.

I’m looking forward to communicating with you at that time. Thank you!

- Kayla


Informative Speech Final Draft 4/5/11

1.      Nicole Sullivan

2.      Cleanup workers living the “Crude life”

3.      To inform

4.      As a result of my presentation, my audience will be able to describe the experience of the cleanup workers.


      (5) Imagine cleaning a blazing oven from the inside with the door closed. These were the conditions that the cleanup workers had to endure.  (6) Thanks to the cleanup workers tolerating these conditions we now have our beach back. (7) While working at the hospital I’ve encountered many workers, I’ve seen their injuries, illnesses, and heard their stories about their temporary job. Their injuries ranged from lacerations to strained muscles. Some of their illnesses were heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  (9) Today I will discuss exactly how the cleanup workers lived the crude life. (10) The workers were living the crude life with unstable work schedules, out of the norm duties and responsibilities, and worked in an oven like environment.      



I.                   Work Schedule

Unstable is a good word to describe their work schedule. They worked any day of the week, extensive hours, and performed strenuous tasks.      

A.    Days and hours

What do you think their work schedules were like? Do you think it was Monday through Friday, eight to five?  No, their work schedules were seven days a week and sometimes a 14 to 17 hour day.

B.     Work increments 

Psychiatric News stated that “some tasks were so physically stressful in mid-summer that safety officers permitted workers on those jobs only a 15-minute working stretch out of every hour.” (How is this illegal? Since the work was hard they would only work 15 minutes at a time)

II.                Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of the workers ranged from cleaning up oil by hand or using machinery to inserting indicators to show the places of protected vegetation.   

A.    Primary job

Their main job was to clean up the oil that washed ashore. They either cleaned it up oil by hand or used machinery. Workers used instruments such as vibrating sifters to assist them in removing oil from the sand. [Picture: workers using sifter] This picture shows the workers using the sifter. 

B.     Other responsibility

One of their responsibilities included inserting indicators to show the places of protected vegetation. They indicated the protected vegetation so that they would know to be extra careful when removing oil in those areas.    

III.             Working Environment

 Can you imagine working in the hot sand and blazing heat in the middle of the summer? Many illness and injuries occurred due to weather conditions and working unfamiliar jobs 

A.    Injuries 

Working unfamiliar jobs lead to accidents like lacerations and strained muscles. Lacerations were the most common and abundant injury because of all the different types of tools. As a result of using foreign heavy machinery workers strained muscles and hurt backs.

B.     Illnesses  

Because of the hazardous elements they were working with, they had to wear protective suits and rubber boots to keep oil from getting on their skin. In an interview with a cleanup worker David Bryant, he stated that even though it was hot he purchased high boots to keep the hot sand away from his feet.

      1. Due to having to wear such things in extreme heat, heat   exhaustion was common. The dictionary defines heat exhaustion a        condition characterized by faintness, rapid pulse, nausea, profuse      sweating, cool skin, and collapse, caused by prolonged exposure to             heat

            2. It has been found that heat and fatigue was not good for their     mental health. Bryant stated that at the end of the day sometimes   he could not think straight.      



Cleanup workers might have made good money but they earned it and worked hard for it. They helped make our beach ours again by working unstable work schedules, doing out of the norm duties and responsibilities, and working in extreme heat and hazardous environments. Since the cleanup workers cleaned our oven we can “bake” in the sun!




Levin, A. (2010). Oil spill found to be toxic to workers' mental health. Psychiatric News , 45(22), Retrieved from

Bp. (2010, September 01). Retrieved from

Heroux Pounds, M. (2010). Oil cleanup work pays well, but work is tough. Sun Sentinel, Retrieved from 

   (2010). Retrieved from

            Bryant, D.J. Personal communication. 03/01/11.