Millions of people suffer with the feeling all they do at work is wither away, wasting their lives and slowly dying in a cubicle, or the service industry, or any of the many other normal and respectable but kind of boring professions that exist in this world. Deep down, most of us know our jobs aren’t really killing us, but there are actually a couple of career paths out there where the biggest occupational hazard seems to be the job itself. The reality is, most of the time it's pretty obvious why certain professionals have lower life expectancies than others, but it isn’t always so cut and dry with all one of these types of employment why people who enter the fold seem to die young.
The majority of these jobs involve hard physical labor, not to mention dangerous working conditions, both of which means an accident can easily cause an early death that the every day office worker doesn’t particularly have to worry about. It isn’t just accidents and mistakes, though—these professions have been reported as having shorter than usual life expectancies even when everything seems to be going right, which might mean there’s actually something in the water at the company cooler. More likely than that, it means there’s something about the general conditions these professionals work in that causes their bodies to break down faster than others, and people considered any of these career paths might want to think about the long-term, and whether or not that long-term even exists, before signing up. Keep reading if you want a warning about 15 professions that come with unusually low life expectancies.
15 Construction Workers
Anybody working in construction in general has a higher risk of ending their life early than people working in an office do. Over half of all fatal workplace accidents reported in America take place on a construction job site, and the number for non-fatal injuries is infinitely higher still. Construction workers wear big hats to protect their heads, but there’s no hat big enough to protect a worker from a multi-ton machine running them over, or for them falling off a beam several hundred feet in the air. Construction workers are also hard physical laborers, and thus face the heart and stress related problems several other workers on this list are prone to suffering.
Construction workers consist of whomever the company hired, and while you hope they all met the proper certification to run these machines, some people are bigger risk takers than others and that doesn’t always matter in the end. Even when all safety precautions are taken, there’s no saying when a strong gust of wind causes a building to fall down, ending multiple lives.
14 People Working With Chemical Radiation
It’s hard to get too specific with a list like this, since the exact job title obviously isn’t what affects a person’s lifespan, but just the nature of their work in general. That’s why we’re starting off vague, and saying that anybody who works with any type of dangerous chemicals or radiation should be careful about everything they do at work. This is kind of common knowledge these days, which is why people working in these fields have giant hazmat suits to protect themselves and scary signs warn anybody who might not know where they are that dangerous gasses are in the air. It wasn’t always like that, though.
Radiation is still a relatively new concept to humanity, and that’s why it wasn’t until the late 60s researchers started to realize how dangerous it could be. None of the other jobs on this list contain anything that could be called lab work, but people using radiation and chemicals are typically scientists working in literal laboratories, as far away from physical danger as imaginable. Unless, of course, the most dangerous thing in the room is the air itself, which by releasing chemicals and radiation into the air, it absolutely can be. As technology improves, people in this field need to worry less about their long-term health problems, but there’s still a significant amount of risk involved any time the word radiation is in the job description.
13 NFL Players
Look no further than recent statistics relating to the life expectancy of athletes in the NFL. Football is one of the most popular sports in America, and anybody who watches it can tell it’s a big higher impact than any other sport we have. Sure, all athletes need a higher than usual level of conditioning, but typically that leads to a longer life, unlike in wrestlers and football players, which can cut some performers lifespans in half if not worse.
The problem, mostly, is head injuries and intentional high-impact offense from other players. Even with helmets and pads, there’s no real way to remove these things from football, and countless players are reaching old age either basically crippled through serious injuries, and that’s not to mention the handful with brain damage severe enough it has caused them to kill themselves and others. Football players have always been tough people, but now that it’s clear too many of them are dying young, many are calling for increased safety regulations. Unfortunately for any potential football stars out there, the NFL is probably the most powerful detractor to the idea of keeping its players safe.
12 Military Personnel
United States military personnel don’t have that much to worry about, as the country truly does have one of the most dominant military forces in the world. Casualties do exist, though, and there’s not a person alive who would claim the military is a profession for the weak at heart. Plenty of the career paths on this list include weaponry, which is part of why the people who work said careers have a chance of dying young, but no other profession on Earth compares to the artillery power of a military career. And that’s just considered your own army—there’s no saying what strange and makeshift weapons the other side is going to craft with the sole intention of killing you in their mind.
To a rational mind, it feels like war is never the answer, but it seems to happen all the time, meaning there is no shortage of people entering the military profession. Depending on where in the military your aspirations lie, there’s a chance you’ll actually be completely safe the entire time you work with them. But combat jobs and any jobs working with heavy machinery are dangerous regardless of what you’re fighting for, and that’s why Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are such sad affairs for many people in the country.
11 Private Protection/Security Guards
The catch-22 of the private protection industry is that the situation needs to be extremely dangerous for the job to exist. Paranoid people might hire their own personal security to look cool or tough in the way of perceived enemies, but the only people who actually need their own bodyguard are people who have a serious threat of having their life ended by some random passerby. Even in the case of security guards for pop stars or other famous people run the risk of a crazed fan wanting to see their celebrity idol, and could easily end up injured or killed in the line of duty for trying to protect the person paying them to do so.
Even if it isn’t private security and its just security in general, things are very risky. Security guards at banks and even high-end stores run the risk of a robbery taking place and needing to step into action, which can end heroically, but it can also end with a premature death or two. Many workers also experience high levels of stress due to their constantly demanding and risky jobs, which can lead to heart problems later in life, as many of the following professions will show. With security guards and private protection, though, the real problem is obvious things going wrong, and the chance always exists.
It doesn’t seem like farming is that dangerous on the surface, but that’s only if you look at the simplest parts of farming. Growing plants and picking them up is easy when you have a tiny personal garden, but when you have acres of land, that requires dozens of pieces of heavy machinery, any of which could easily malfunction and cause some serious injuries or even death to the farmer. In some ways, the easier farming gets from a physical standpoint, the more dangerous things are becoming at the same time, due to the complicated mechanical builds of the machines that are taking over the more manual labor elements of the job.
Injuries amongst workers in the farming industry have actually been steadily rising for years, and being a physical profession, farmers also run the risk of increased heart problems, as well. That’s not even to mention working in the hot sun all day, which can cause heat stroke, skin problems, and dehydration if the farmer isn’t careful. These things don’t usually result in instant death, but they aren’t pretty, either, and can certainly take some time off a lifespan if they become recurring issues. Of course, farming is also one of the most essential professions in the world, so we can’t exactly be dissuading people from taking up the job, either.
One of the specific elements of construction work is building roofs, and oddly enough that seems to be one of the most dangerous elements of the job. Roofers have all the obvious dangerous a construction worker faces, with the additional risk of exclusively performing their duties from extremely high heights under blaring hot sunlight. The actual duties of a roofer might seem pretty straightforward, but there’s still plenty of risk involved, since a wrong step on an unfinished roof could mean a roofer falling through the house to their death. Misfiring a staple gun and getting your hand permanently affixed to the top of somebody’s house might not kill you, but that’s pretty terrible, too.
Due to the risk involved, most roofers need additional certification over your average construction worker to prove they know what they’re doing. This isn’t the case in every country, though, or even every state in the US. Plenty of roofers are merely skilled handymen and women who feel they can do the job on their own. Naturally, these are the ones at the highest risk for a workplace injury or even worse. If you’re considering doing any work on your house, at the very least, don’t do it alone, because it’s very easy to make a fatal mistake.
As with a few professions on this list, things used to be significantly worse for people working in the mining industry. There was actually a time in this world when people didn’t realize breathing in actual chunks of coal could be harmful to your lungs, and as a result, virtually every miner was bound to die extremely young as a result of some sort of lung disease. We know a lot more now, and thus the proper safety restrictions are in place, but there are still plenty of risks involved with being a professional miner. Anybody who watches the news must feel like a group of miners get trapped and fear for their lives at least once every few years, and accidents that cause immediate deaths are even more prevalent than that.
Although things have gotten better for miners in general since the profession was founded, these days, they’ve actually been getting a little bit worse. Mining related injuries have been on the rise over the past few years, either due to worker negligence or the fact the places people are mining these days are simply less stable than the mines that had been discovered throughout years past. There’s also still the issue of needing to breathe while miles underground, and although black lung disease isn’t the problem it used to be, it still claims the lives of tens of thousands of former miners every year.
7 Pro Wrestlers
In general, athletes have higher lifespans than the average person, especially if those athletes are at the Olympic level. It makes sense—these people presumably care more about their bodies than the average Joe, and therefore take care of them and ensure they can make as much money by playing the sports they love that they can, and keep doing it for as long as possible. There’s one competitive sporting profession that breaks this rule, which we’ll discuss momentarily. For now, let’s focus on the fact there’s an even worse problem in the exhibition sport of professional wrestling.
Detractors of sports entertainment will tell you that it’s fake, and the results are predetermined, but there’s no denying the stress the male and female performers are putting on their bodies every time they step into the ring. Falling down hurts, even if you’re only pretending about what made you fall down. If you fall down on your head, again, even if you only pretended to get hurt prior to the landing, your brain is going to take some actual damage from the fall when it hits the mat. This alone can cause brain problems, as evidenced by the horrific crimes of Chris Benoit and the early retirement of Daniel Bryan, and even without the brain problems, pro wrestlers have a higher propensity for drug problems than any other profession even on this list. Fans are starting to take serious notice, and WWE has created the Wellness Policy to try and curb the problem, but there’s still a long way to go before wrestlers can stop worrying about dying young.
On the one hand, we kind of understand why seeing the word “fisherman” on this list might seem a bit out of place. We assume most people have either themselves fished or at least witnessed someone do it, and when fishing on a casual level, there’s absolutely nothing dangerous about the activity. However, on the other hand, may we remind you that there’s a long-running popular television show called Deadliest Catch, and the thrill of the show is the fact fishing can be absolutely terrifying at times. Obviously, these are two extremes of the concept, but that doesn’t mean we can discount just how dangerous fishing can be, as the rate of fatalities amongst fisherman has only been rising in recent years.
Whether or not fishing is a dangerous profession obviously depends entirely on what it is you’re fishing for, but chances are if you’re looking to make a career out of it, the game you’re hunting may just be a bit more dangerous than you think. Even when the fishing itself isn’t that dangerous, any large body of water is, especially in a storm that could capsize a boat and leave fisherman left for dead in the middle of the sea.
Electrical workers have an interesting place on our list, in that virtually everyone is no doubt aware of the serious risks involved with electricity, but we all use it so much that it slides into their back of our minds every time we touch something with a current. The reality is, if something has an electrical charge, it can kill you. It probably won’t, since everything that has an electrical charge was designed in a manner to make sure it wouldn’t backfire and kill you, but electricians are constantly working with the things that produce those dangerous charges, and things could backfire for them far more likely than they could for the average human being.
Electricians don’t have the biggest risk on our list, as technology is constantly improving and making things safer for them, too, but they’re still far from being completely in the clear when it comes to job safety. Even amongst non-electricians, exposure to electricity is one of the most frequent causes for an on-site work accident. When exposure to electricity is the job description, chances of such a thing happening obviously go up astronomically.
The farming and construction industries have certain things in common with this next entry, so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising. Loggers, or more generally anybody working in the forestry industry, runs virtually all of the same two risks of those professions, with the added bonus that the whole point of their job is to get giant, heavy trees to fall down. Years of advances in the industry means that it’s mostly machines that do this, and workers merely make sure those machines work and nobody’s in the way of the trees when they fall down, but obviously, mistakes are still made, and thus loggers are yet another group where fatalities have actually been on the rise in recent years.
Anybody can picture a lumberjack chopping down a tree and yelling timber, and maybe that was the case at some point in history, but these days dozens of trees at a time can be chopped down in the fell swoop of one giant machine. Of course, that machine having a screw loose can also mean dozens of logs go flying, injuring or outright crushing the workers who were on site. Chopping down all those trees isn’t exactly great for the long-term life of the planet, either.
3 Law Enforcement Officers
You don’t even need to follow the news these days to understand how tough things are getting for police officers. Of course, not all of them are doing the best job, but that hardly justifies the violence that modern day law enforcement are suffering at the hands of protesters and criminals alike. And of course, these are only the new problems facing law enforcement officers. Even in a more unified country without seemingly nonstop violence in the streets, the idea of a police officer is to jump in and save the day when things are getting extremely dangerous for the general public. Obviously, this profession is going to have one of the highest fatality rates around.
The fatality rate of law enforcement officers isn’t quite as high as that of some others on the list, but that’s only due to the comparative numbers of people even willing to enter the fold. Becoming a cop can be a terrifying prospect, and even a brave, virtuous and courageous person might think twice before wearing the shield when they know how many people out there are going to hate them for doing so these days. Then again, some people wear the badge for that reason, and perhaps that’s why things are getting to the state they’re in these days. Regardless of where you land on the politics of police, it’s clear it’s a dangerous profession, and only one for people willing to take the risk of dying early.
Unlike most of the professions we just mentioned, firefighters have actually been making improvements as of late, with the number of premature deaths amongst the profession actually slightly down in recent years. That doesn’t change the obvious and immediate dangers of the profession, and the bravery of the men and women who decide to enter the career can’t be forgotten simply because they’re getting better at saving lives. And even though they’re getting better at it, the nature of firefighting is so risky and dangerous that it’s pretty much impossible to do it perfectly, so plenty of firefighters still end up victims to the flames themselves when trying to save the lives of others.
It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than suddenly being engulfed in flames, and thus the people who willingly walk into the fire without fear can easily seem like superheroes to anyone thusly trapped. However, as trained as they are and as many improvements to firefighting as there are being made, these people are still just that, and can easily end up victim to the fire that they arrived to fight. Hopefully, things will only continue to get better, and there will one day be away to put out fires without any loss of life, but until then, firefighting will remain a risky proposition for only the bravest souls to undertake.
1 Truck Drivers
The general blanket that is construction work accounts for the most workplace accidents in general, but when getting specific, there’s no riskier profession out there than long-haul truck driving. Wait, what? Well, although it seems like long-haul truck driving is literally just driving extremely far distances across the country, it’s worth remembering an oft-forgotten fact most people like pushing into the back of their heads: driving a car, in and of itself, is extremely dangerous. You’re completely safe if everything’s going right, and both hopefully and usually it is, but sometimes a sudden accident can make everything go wrong.
Long-haul truck drivers account for a quarter of all workplace deaths in America. This is an alarming number, but admittedly part of it is due to the fact there are more truckers out there than any other profession on the list. Nonetheless, it’s still shocking so many truckers are falling asleep at the wheel, or veering off the road, or ending up in some kind of other accident we can’t even imagine. With this information available and traffic safety something all drivers should be concerned with, you’d think this trend would be diminishing as time goes on, but like so many on this list, more truckers seem to die young every year.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics