Workplace safety has come a long way over the years as a result of regulation and innovation. However, there are certain jobs so inherently dangerous that no amount of government regulation or technology could ever make them danger-free. Some occupations are simply dangerous. Read on to learn more about the most dangerous jobs as well as tips for staying safe even in the unsafest of workplaces.
In 2017 there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses and 5,147 deaths from work-related injuries. While these numbers show a decline since 2016, occupational injuries and fatalities result in costs to employees and employers. There is no doubt that an employee’s injury or death has a significant impact on their family and loved ones financially, personally, and emotionally.
Employers face direct and indirect costs as well. Direct costs of workplace injuries and deaths include workers’ compensation payments, medical bills, and legal fees. Estimates indicate that employers pay approximately $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs. Indirect costs include lost productivity, training replacement employees, investigations, corrective measures, and costs related to absenteeism or employee morale. Everyone loses when a worker is injured.
Occupations with the highest fatality rates tend to involve one of three things: (1) employees working from dangerous heights where falls would be fatal, (2) employees having frequent contact with dangerous machinery, or (3) employees driving for substantial periods of time. In addition, drug overdose deaths at work have increased by at least 25 percent in each the last five years. Based on an analysis by 24/7 Wall St. and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most dangerous jobs are as follows:
Physically-demanding work combined with slippery decks, extreme weather conditions, and lack of access to medical care (when working in remote areas) makes it no surprise to many that working in the fishing industry is extremely dangerous. The majority of these fatalities are caused by drowning.
Many logging accidents occur when a worker is hit by an object like a falling log or is injured by machinery like a chainsaw. Logging is a physically demanding job that often takes place in remote areas where there may be limited access to medical care.
Most injuries to these workers are transportation-related.
In addition to obvious risks like falls, slips, or tripping from roofs, ladders, or scaffolds, roofers are exposed to extreme heat in warmer climates and in summer months leading to heat-related illnesses.
These workers spend most of their time in a vehicle so their injuries are most often transportation-related like auto accidents. They are also exposed to pollutants that may cause illness.
Falls, slips, and trips are the most common causes of fatalities in this group since iron and steel workers are performing at significant heights to repair iron and steel on roads, buildings, and bridges.
These workers spend most of their time driving; the most common cause of fatalities are transportation-related, including auto accidents. They also lift and move heavy objects.
Motorized vehicles are mostly to blame for fatal injuries to these workers. Tractors and tools often pose severe safety risks.
Ground maintenance can be dangerous because the workers are using powerful machinery like chainsaws and tractors, and working at elevated heights. Fatalities for these workers are most commonly caused by unintended contact with equipment.
Working on high-voltage power lines at great heights is a dangerous combination. Exposure to live wires and falling are the most common hazards.
Other dangerous occupations that rounded out the list include:
11. Miscellaneous agricultural workers
12. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
13. Helpers, construction trades
14. General maintenance and repair workers
15. Grounds maintenance workers
16. Construction laborers
17. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers
18. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
19. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
20. Mining machine operators
21. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
22. Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers
23. Painters, construction, and maintenance
Each occupation comes with its own unique set of safety risks. To stay safe at work, consider the following tips.
While we have discussed the most dangerous jobs here, no occupation is immune from potential workplace injuries. At Renfro & Renfro, our Virginia workers’ compensation attorneys have experience handling both sides of workers’ compensation claims. Using this unique industry insight, our lawyers will work with you to evaluate your case and help you to obtain the best possible outcome. Contact Renfro & Renfro today for a free consultation.