The truth is, some jobs are more dangerous than others. There are certain things that make the lives of every American easier that require highly trained workers to do something especially hard.
Consider these statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: in 2014 there were 4,821 workplace fatalities. Additionally, both the private construction and the mining and oil and gas extraction industries saw sharp increases in fatalities over previous years.
While these statistics may sound alarming, they are also indicative of the continued need to be mindful and educated about the inherent dangers within some of the nation’s most important jobs. In order to keep the lights on in our homes and our cars running, people have to perform dangerous work. But there are things we can all do to keep those workers safer.
Since our primary concern here at Technical Skills Development is helping electrical workers perform their job safely and in accordance with OSHA and NFPA 70E standards, we are invested in identifying hazardous work and finding ways to prepare workers for avoiding those hazards.
That’s why we’re putting together this guide to the most dangerous jobs in America. On the one hand, we want to applaud the brave women and men who do this work. On the other hand, we want everyone else to be aware of why safety regulations and continued education is so important.
So with that being said, here’s our list of the most dangerous jobs in the United States.
The most dangerous job in America is, without a doubt, logging. The reason for the danger is threefold:
Loggers are required to scale tall trees using equipment that is designed to offer protection while also giving them the freedom of movement that they need to complete their tasks. Unfortunately, that means that when something does go wrong, it can happen high up in the air resulting in a life-threatening fall.
- Dangerous Equipment
Not only are loggers high in the air, but they are using dangerous hand-held equipment — most notably chainsaws — while they are up there. Because loggers are often in unnatural positions while operating this machinery, there are numerous opportunities to make a very dangerous mistake.
- Falling Trees
There’s a reason yelling “timber!” has become a part of the American lexicon. Being aware of falling trees is of the utmost importance for loggers. Unfortunately, a brief lapse in awareness can have tragic consequences when giant hardwood trees comes crashing down.
As a result of these dangers, 78 loggers lost their lives at work in 2014, at a rate of 110.9 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study.
Following closely behind loggers are fishers and those who work in the fish harvest industry. Fatalities within the fishing industry can be attributed to:
- Bad Weather
Unfortunately, fishers can’t choose the weather where they work. Because some of the richest fishing locales are in the far north, inclement weather can be especially dangerous. Icy waters and sudden storms can mean falling overboard will often lead to tragic consequences.
- Malfunctioning Equipment
Additionally, because fishers are often privately contracted and thus own their own equipment, some operators are motivated to ignore the need for repairs and maintenance as a means of cutting down on costs. Because large-scale fishing operations require heavy equipment in order to maximize fish hauls, if this equipment malfunctions, the accident can often prove fatal. Furthermore, even well-maintained equipment can fail catastrophically under the punishing conditions of rough weather.
It’s no wonder TV networks have created successful reality shows based on following these workers. The job is often intense and high-stakes. As a result, in 2014, 22 fishers died at a rate of 80.8 per 100,000 workers, as reported by the BLS.
Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers
Anyone who has flown knows that a lot of safety procedures go into protecting airline pilots along with their passengers. Unfortunately, while regulations keep most pilots safe, the consequences from even a small mistake are heightened by the fact that that mistake occurred at 30,000 feet.
In fact, the BLS reports that 82 pilots and flight engineers died on the job in 2014, resulting in a rate of 64 per 100,000.
Roofing is tough work. Depending on the job, you may have to work many stories in the air. Additionally, different roofs have different grades of steepness, making falling more likely.
In fact, almost all roofing fatalities are the result of falls. According to the BLS, in 2014, 83 roofers died at a rate of 47.4 per 100,000 workers.
That being said, roofers also have a very high rate of non-fatal on the job injuries. Because roofers work hard to be efficient while using high powered nail guns, accidental puncture wounds are common. Additionally, non-fatal falls are also common — especially since workers tend to be less careful on lower roofs — which nonetheless can result in painful fractures and other injuries.
Garbage and Recycling Collectors
Many people already assume that garbage collectors have an unbearably dirty job. Many don’t realize that it is also very dangerous. Unfortunately, many of the dangers come from those outside of the industry. Specifically, most fatal injuries occur because other drivers on the road are either distracted or reckless.
This is especially true for those who collect garbage and recycling in urban areas. Because roads are narrow, already congested and full of frustrated drivers, those working to keep our streets clean and orderly fall victim to those who don’t give trash collectors the space they need to do their job.
But trash collectors are also working with some pretty dangerous equipment, most especially the trash compactor that allows collectors to store countless cans worth of garbage in the back of one truck. Such power can be unforgiving if a garbage collector isn’t paying close enough attention.
In the end, 27 garbage and recycling collectors died in 2014, at a rate of 35.8 per 100,000 workers, according to the BLS.
Farmers and Agricultural Workers
One of the world’s oldest and most essential jobs — growing and raising the food we eat — is also one of the most dangerous. Many risk factors contribute to the dangers, including:
- Long Hours
Work hours for agricultural workers change with the season. While certain periods of the year afford agricultural workers a good amount of time off, when it comes time to harvest, the hours can be brutal. The pressure of these hours can often lead to serious mistakes.
- Heavy Equipment
In order to give farmers the ability to get more work done with fewer hands, heavy equipment has become standard on most American farms. Sadly, this heavy equipment is a lot more dangerous.
- Working alone
Finally, many farmers are working in rural areas in isolation. That means if an accident does happen, it can be hard for a farmer to quickly get the kind of help that they need. As a result, a severe injury is more often fatal.
As a result, 270 farmers and agricultural workers died in 2014 at a rate of 26.7 per 100,000 workers, according to the BLS.
Steel and Iron Workers
It should come as no surprise that manufacturing structural iron and steel — such as the heavy “I” beams that form the skeletons of the nation’s skyscrapers — is a dangerous profession.
These beams are exceedingly heavy, are moved with dangerous cranes and are assembled using high-powered and extremely hot tools.
Add the fact that many iron and steel workers are doing their jobs at dizzying heights and you have a recipe for some pretty dangerous work.
In fact, in addition to the 15 total fatalities at a rate of 25.2 per 100,000 workers, the BLS reports that steel and iron workers suffer one of the highest rates of non-fatal injuries in the U.S. job market.
Truck Divers and Delivery Workers
No matter how hard they try to be safe, a job that requires significant time spent on the road is prone to auto accidents. As a result, truck divers and other delivery workers have a very dangerous job. Specific risk factors include:
- Long Hours
Although regulations are in place to limit the risk, truck drivers spend long hours on the road. Whether they grow tired and fall asleep or simply become hypnotized by the road, drivers have to be extra careful to stay alerted while they drive.
- Other Drivers
Unfortunately, even the safest and most aware truck driver still has to contend with those around them, many of whom are not nearly as responsible or safety minded as professional drivers. Because 18-wheelers are so top heavy, swerving to miss an aggressive driver can have tragic consequences fro the truck driver.
As the BLS reports, there were 880 total fatalities in 2014 as a rate of 24.7 per 100,000 workers.
Electrical Power Line Installers and Repair Workers
As children, we are warned about the dangers of power lines. We are taught to avoid downed lines at all costs, since the risk of fatality in such a situation is so great. Instead, we are told to tell an adult who will then contact the proper people to make the necessary repairs.
Well, those who do the necessary repairs do so at great risk to themselves.
There are two primary risks that electrical line workers experience:
Electrical lines, in order to keep the public safe, are predominately held in the air. That means repairs need to be made up at great heights. This is especially true of the high voltage lines, which are placed as far away from people as possible.
- Risk of Electrocution
However, while heights are a concern, the biggest worry is the sheer amount of electrical current that passes through power lines. While electrical line workers are highly trained in order to be prepared for the risk, because of the amount of voltage that passes through the lines, one mistake can be fatal.
In 2014, this industry suffered 25 fatalities at a rate of 19.2 per 100,000 workers, according to the BLS.
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
Like other jobs that involve working while driving, taxi drivers and chauffeurs put their lives at risk in order to get the rest of us where we want to go.
For these workers, risks include:
- Protecting Passengers
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs work hard to keep their passengers safe. Sometimes that means putting themselves in harms way in order to prevent injury to the others in their cars.
- Violent Passengers
Despite working hard to protect their passengers, drivers — especially those in high crime areas — run the risk of being hurt by the people they are trying to serve. Whether a passenger is under the influence, trying to rob the driver or simply engaged in some other dangerous activity, too often the person in the back seat is the most dangerous person for a taxi driver or chauffeur.
- Bad Weather
Additionally, drivers can’t take the day off just because the streets are wet. This means that sometimes accidents occur, and sometimes those accidents are fatal.
In the end, the BLS reports that 68 taxi drivers and chauffeurs died in 2014 at a rate of 18 per 100,000 workers.
Training in Order to Keep you Safe
Whether you are working on steel beams, tall trees, behind the wheel or with electrical equipment, the best way to stay safe while working on one of these dangerous jobs is through good training. When you receive proper and focused safety training tailored to your specific industry, you are better prepared to see upcoming dangers and take the proper steps to avoid them.
That’s why organizations like OSHA have gone to great lengths to ensure that all employers, especially those in more dangerous industries, are doing everything they can to keep their workers safe.
If you work with electrical equipment, regardless of the industry, Technical Skills Development has quickly become the benchmark for OSHA aligned safety training programs against which all other programs are judged.
We pride ourselves in developing focused electrical equipment safety education programming, customizing it for each job-site and industry. Because we have so much experience in developing educational training based on specific OSHA, NFPA 70E and other risk management standards, we are best suited for making sure that your employees are prepared to address any and every safety concern in a way that is specific to your industry and workplace.
In fact, we’ve been preparing these safety programs for nearly 15 years. Over that time, we have seen the ways that electrical safety training requirements have changed and evolved and we have evolved with them. As a result, no training program is better prepared to meet the increasingly specific and complex safety requirements than ours.
No industry wants to receive the dubious honor of being the most dangerous. In the end, we know that there is a job that needs to get done and we want to be the people that make sure that job gets done efficiently and safely. If you have OSHA or NFPA 70E safety compliance requirements that involve any type of electrical equipment, we want to help you meet them.
So contact us today and let us help you make your workplace a safer and better place to work. Let’s get the job done and get everyone back home safe when it is done.