Why not simply work on virtual machines? Then you know they are clean and you can have all the rights you want and still have comply with company rules.
In a lot of environments, setting up a good seperation is simply to costly in time, so you either end up with dev's with not enough rights to do their job or to many where they can endanger systems they shouldn't.
So it should not be needed to have local admin rights, but then the sysadmins got a hell of a job to setup everything so that it is not needed. Most sysadmins simply ain't capable of that, or if they are, are not given the time.
Old programmers never die, they just hit account block limit.