Workplace safety is an important issue that employers spend large amounts of money and time on. Educating their employees, enforcing safeguards and providing first aid training are just some of the many ways employers hope to avoid a costly lawsuit or a deadly accident.
Because of advancements in training, workplace injuries and fatalities have declined in the past decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,405 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2013.
Despite best efforts to keep employees throughout the nation safe, there are a handful of jobs that carry an inherent risk. They often involve heavy machinery, unstable work environments, and long strenuous hours. The injuries in these occupations can occur very quickly and without warning. They are almost always very serious and can lead to death. These are the ten deadliest jobs out there today, still carried out by workers in the United States on a daily basis.
10. Construction Laborers
Not only do construction laborers rank high in fatality rates, they also rank very high in workplace injuries. The most obvious reason for the high rate of injuries among construction laborers is simply the nature and environment of the job.
Construction laborers clean and prepare construction sites, build scaffolding, dig large trenches, operate construction equipment, and form job sites. Their daily work consists of heavy lifting and very long hours, often in extreme heat and dangerous environments.
Construction laborers can fall victim to electrical hazards, falling objects, heavy machinery malfunction, and cave-ins. Another form of construction which adds to the fatality rate of laborers is road construction, which carries the possibility of death from being hit by a vehicle. Approximately 215 construction laborer deaths occurred in 2013. The fatality rate per 100,000 construction laborers is 17.4.
Farming is one of the oldest professions, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Many of the accidents that occur within the agricultural industry are from heavy machinery. Tractors, harvesters, tillers, and even large lawn mowers pose serious danger to the men and women who operate them. Ranchers are often injured or even killed by livestock.
Two common causes of fatalities among farmers are tractor rollovers, and becoming engulfed in grain during harvest season. The fatality rate among farmers and ranchers is 26.1 per 100,000 workers.
8. Truck Drivers
There are more than 3 million truck drivers in the United States. Everyone from UPS delivery men and women, to those that drive large diesel trucks across country, are included in the truck driving profession. Each kind of driving comes with its own hazards.
Delivery drivers are exposed to heavy traffic when entering and exiting their delivery vehicle. They are also subject to injuries from carrying heavy packages, as well as extreme environmental changes.
Long distance truck drivers face a different set of hazards. They are expected to drive up to fourteen hours a day and often do not find adequate sleeping areas for the night. Long hours behind the wheel combined with a poor selection of food are a recipe for accidents.
The professional driver fatality rate has been recorded at 22.0 per 100,000 workers.
7. Power Linesmen
Linesmen are hoisted up in a small buck to the top of a power line and pull apart, rewire, and fix massive electrical wires, all while cars and trucks drive just below. And, when severe weather strikes, the first people out to restore power to towns and cities are power linesmen.
Falls are the most prominent danger for linemen, along with burns and electrocution. The possibility of burns and electrocution occur because power linesmen often work with live wires in order to prevent service interruption. Burns from electrical wires are often severe and can result in death. The fatality rate of power linesmen is 21.5 per 100,000 workers.
6. Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors
Most of us set out trash at the curb and don’t give a second thought to how it’s collected or where it goes. But the men and women responsible for collecting your trash several days a week have a very risky job that places them sixth on the list of the deadliest jobs.
In 2012, 26 refuse and recyclable collectors were killed. The fatality rate sits at 27.1 per 100,000 workers.
The most prominent danger for sanitation workers comes from the cars and trucks with which they share the road. Heavy traffic and impatient drivers can try to squeeze past trash trucks and accidentally injure or kill a sanitation worker.
Other dangers are cuts from broken glass, dirty syringes, chemicals within trash bags that can burst under the pressure of the trash compactor, and objects that fall from the truck.
You know the massive steel bridges and buildings that you see in and around cities across the country? Those huge structures are erected by ironworkers; men and women who assemble the structural steel framework of pre-engineered metal buildings.
It’s more than obvious that walking along steel beams 50 stories high poses several safety hazards. One of those, of course, is a fatal fall – the leading cause of ironworker death and injury. Along with falling, ironworkers can be injured or killed by wall collapses, electrocution from live electrical lines, and large falling or swinging objects.
In 2012, there were 22 total fatalities, bringing the ironworkers’ fatality rate to 37.0 per 100,000 workers. Ironworkers have strict guidelines and work codes to follow, including structural supports and fitted harnesses to deter falls and injuries.
For many of us, just the thought of sitting on a roof is frightening. Roofers spend their entire work day not just sitting, but walking, pulling heavy equipment, installing, and repairing roofs.
The height and cumbersome work environment can lead to fatal falls, but many other factors can contribute to roofing fatalities. According to the Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers, roofers can experience fatal burns, electrocutions, chemical exposures, and hoisting accidents.
Guardrails and harnesses make roofing safer, but the fatality rate remains at 40.5 per 100,000 workers.
3. Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers
The median annual salary for a commercial airline pilot is $92,060, much higher than many of the other professions on this list. One would think that it would be the major airline pilots that are victims of the majority of aviation deaths.
However, it is actually bush, charter, and air taxi pilots that accumulate the majority of deaths in this field.
The number one cause of deaths for airplane pilots is human error, according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. In recent years, advances in navigational equipment and weather reporting have made flights safer, thus reducing pilot deaths slightly. However, the fatality rate of workers is still at 53.4 per 100,000 workers.
The work involved in a career of logging is not for the faint of heart. Besides the extremely rough terrain that logging workers navigate, there are also unforeseen hazards. The first and most deadly of these is falling trees. Despite best efforts to direct trees away from themselves, loggers are always in dangerous territory when they cut a sky high tree at the trunk. Not only is there the possibility of an entire tree falling in the wrong direction; there is also a chance that large branches fall directly on loggers.
Also risky is the large cutting and hauling equipment that is involved in logging. Massive chainsaws, log loaders, chippers, grinders, and excavators are huge machines with a lot of power behind them. One wrong move and loggers could find themselves in a fatal position.
Statistics from 2011 calculated logging workers’ fatality rate at 104 per 100,00 workers. While the rate of death is extremely high, the median annual salary of loggers is a mere $32,870.
Sitting in a paddle boat in the middle of a tiny pond with a worm baited fishing line, dangling in four foot deep water. That’s the first image that springs to the minds of most when they think of a fisherman. But that’s not the sort of pastime that could be fatal; rather, the kind of fishing that takes the number one spot for the most dangerous job in the world is a bit more high stress.
The men and women who risk their lives fishing in rough waters are constantly bombarded by heavy equipment, drastically changing weather, unpredictable work environments, constant lifting, and the ever present possibility of either falling overboard or being victim to their boat sinking.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fishing as a profession has a fatality rate of 127.3 to every 100,000 workers. Commercial fishing, which includes any type of aquatic fishing for the purpose of profit, has held the title of the most dangerous job in the US since 1992.
To drive home just how deadly the fisherman’s’ work is, the Discovery Channel began the show ‘Deadliest Catch’. The program follows a fleet of crab fisherman who risk their lives on the Bering Sea. Each season there are multiple injuries, deaths, and boat disasters. The men and women that survive fishing on the rough seas come home with an average of $25,595 – although for larger fishing vessels, the profit is much higher, reaching closer toward $60,000.
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