15 Everyday Jobs That Can Potentially Kill You

Jobs: everyone needs one – or in this economy, as many as two or three. The days of getting a decent paying job with only a high school diploma are pretty much over, and school can’t be paid with a single minimum-wage part-time job. Even then, new grads with BAs and even Masters degrees are having a hard time getting employment. Living off of Mom and Dad isn’t always an option, and if it is, it can only last for so long. Do you really want to be a grown man or woman living at home?

Some people are lucky to get the position they want, but many are taking whatever opportunity comes their way. That being said, just because a position pays doesn’t mean it’s all that safe for your health, though. Stress, respiratory problems, and physical aches and pains are just a few of the risks people endure for money. After all, groceries and rent won’t pay for themselves, and neither will that dream car that seems so far out of reach.

These health problems aren’t restricted to outrageous careers like skydiving instructors or deep sea divers. These can occur from working everyday, normal jobs. Before heading out into the world looking for your place in the work force, take into consideration these everyday jobs that can kill you.


16 Police Officer

No, we’re not talking about the stereotypical Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons who eats doughnuts like it’s nobody’s business. We’re talking about the actual men and women who risk their lives while fighting crime. Yes, policing has gotten a bit better in recent years considering the drop in crime rate, however, there have been several cases where officers have been killed on the job.

Interestingly, while many police do die because of guns, there’s a larger number who die because of traffic accidents. Yes, many officers who spend the majority of their shift driving are subject to becoming tired. This is a risk due to the possibility of a road accident. There is also the fact that officers investigating the scene of a crash caused by other people can lead to something potentially dangerous. Whenever there’s an accident, drivers tend to be distracted and drive slowly to catch a glimpse of what happened. Sometimes these people get a little too distracted and can hit an officer by mistake.

15 Firefighter


As if the title of “firefighter” wasn’t enough of a giveaway, there are a lot of dangers that come with this one. Getting burned on the job or experiencing smoke inhalation is always the first thought when it comes to potential risks of getting into the career. Falling through a burning building, getting crushed by weakened boards, and even stumbling over equipment are also causes for injury on the job. All this can happen while being covered in heavy protective gear and equipment like oxygen tanks and hoses.

In a study, researchers found that firefighters have a high risk of developing cancers like prostate and testicular because of the chemicals found on the job. Diesel, which is used to fuel firetrucks and other vehicles, and formaldehyde, a substance found in many household objects, are two common sources of the development of these diseases. Heart disease is another risk because of working within such hot temperatures, as well as respiratory diseases, and stress.

No one ever said being a hero was easy.

14 Office Worker

Sitting in a somewhat cushioned chair while typing away all day sounds like a decent enough job and does have a few perks (such as air conditioning and heating), however, it’s full of potential life-ending situations – beyond office drama, that is.

Pushing aside the old debate of whether or not sitting all day takes years off someone’s life, there are more certain ways sitting at a desk can risk your well-being. For one, slouching can lead to long-term illness and a crooked spine if not treated soon enough. Too much driving can take a toll on the body, especially if there’s a lot of traffic. That said traffic can lead many employees to skip breakfast, which can cause stress. Rather than skipping a meal, some may opt for fast food on a more regular basis, which again, isn’t good. Not to mention the boring motivational meetings, which can cause depression in attendees.

“Sick Building Syndrome” is another factor, which is a result of the air within buildings being worse than the air outside – or even sitting in heavy traffic. Toll booth jobs look that much better now.

13 Toll Booth Worker


It seems easy enough to sit in a booth and collect money from drivers, but there’s a lot more to the job than that. Think about it like this: toll booth workers have to sit out in the elements collecting fare and dealing with the whining and complaining from people going about their days to work, home, or wherever they’re going. Sounds like customer service, right? Top that off with some respiratory problems from sitting in traffic-congested roads surrounded by (sometimes idle) cars for miles and you’ve got yourself a dangerous job.

Sitting in smog-ridden areas isn’t good for the lungs, and while there are many who claim to have developed breathing problems, that isn’t the only issue. Headaches and eye irritation from working toll booths, and illnesses from coming into contact with diseases like colds are also a risk factor. Unfortunately, because there aren’t a high number of studies done on toll booth workers, there isn’t enough extensive research to determine the full extent of the side effects of working this job. It’s still something to keep in mind when looking through job boards.

12 Cleaner

Janitor, custodian, cleaning man/woman – they go by a lot of names, but there’s one thing for sure: there’s a chance they can fall ill or potentially worse because of their job.

Depending on what kind of facility they scrub clean, there are different kinds of hazards. Not all places or companies use the same materials to clean with such as schools compared to hospitals. Sometimes the situation itself may be the hazard, like factory equipment in a food processing plant versus a crime scene. One thing is for sure, and it’s that the common danger for this particular job is that employers have to use chemicals to clean.

No, this isn’t an excuse to stop cleaning your house. When you spend a bit of time tidying the dusty mantel or scrubbing the toilet, there is some exposure to chemicals, but when it’s done on a daily basis for hours upon hours, that’s when it has the potential to be hazardous.

11 Gas Station Attendant


Depending on the town or city, working at a gas station can be relatively safe. In smaller towns, the biggest issue is smoking at the pumps or leaving cars running while filling up. Even that guy who buys $500 worth of 649 on a busy day holding the line with his specific order is the worst that’ll happen to them that day. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every gas station.

Robberies gone wrong are usually what people assume. There are many safety procedures put in place to help employees work their way through a robbery, but there’s no sure way to prevent them from happening. People looking for a quick buck may not think things through and shoot the night guy working the cash.

A lot of GSAs have died trying to prevent what they call “drive offs.” The problem is that there are many gas stations that will put the blame on the employee and take the missing money out of their paycheck or force them to pay out of pocket. It doesn’t sound so bad if someone’s accidentally put $.90 of the wrong gas in their car and didn’t say anything, but when people purposely pump and dash over $50 worth of fuel, it really adds up. Sometimes employees will run after the perp, causing them to die in an accident or be purposely hit.

While there are a few laws to protect gas station attendants, it doesn’t mean every employer follows them.

10 Manual Labourer

Performing physical work on a daily basis takes its toll on the human body. Aches and pains aren’t unusual, and bruises and small cuts are some of the more minor side effects of working there. It’s common for new employees to not be 100% aware of the hazards in these work places, and as a result, they’re often the ones getting injured.

For the most part, cuts, bruises, slips, and trips are the main injuries people face, and they’re usually minor. However, there are a high number of deaths in these types of jobs. Slips can lead to head injuries, cuts can cause infections.

On top of that, there’s the physical aspect to the job. Working too hard is bad on the heart and can cause heart disease. Running and other methods of exercising have their benefits, and because they aren’t done eight hours a day, seven days a week, the body has time to rest and get used to what it’s going through. Compared to say, lifting heavy boxes of freezers or constantly moving car parts on and off lines.

It was proven in a study that people who work these jobs are also at a higher risk to develop diabetes. Long work hours, lack of sleep, and longer commutes are to blame for that.


9 Commercial Fishers


As beautiful as the vast seas and oceans may be, water is a very fussy mistress. There is always the risk for high tides, capsizing, storms, and depending on the location, dangerous wildlife to consider. Hopefully someone remembers to fully stock the fridge, too, to prevent starvation. If any of this should happen, there is also the fact that there are limited resources when working in the middle of such a large body of water. There aren’t any nearby hospitals, fire crews, grocery stores – nothing.

There are also workplace safety issues, much like working in a manual labour facility. Slips from water, lose ropes, unsecure nets, traps, and crates are a few of the reasons people get injured on the job. Again, because of the isolation, if not treated properly, these injuries can lead to something worse.

With all this in mind, it’s a wonder how fishing is one of the world’s oldest professions.

8 Roofers

When it comes to roofers, the automatic assumption is that there are a lot of deaths related to falling off from tall buildings. This is pretty accurate. There are many ways workers can have work-place related deaths in these situations. Slips from lose shingles, trips from loose tools lying around, weather conditions, and falling through holes are a few of the reasons why people fall. There are also cases of new roofers being subject to miscalculating heights or suddenly experiencing fear of how high up they are that they, too, fall.

Another common way for roofers to die is by having something fall on them. For example, say someone places lose material on the roof and turns away. That material isn’t properly secured and for one reason or another, slides down the roof and lands on an innocent worker.

Of course, don’t forget asbestos in roofs. That chemical is a silent killer, making it even more harmful to people who come near it.

While there are a lot of deaths, many initiatives are being put into place to help prevent these kinds of fatalities. There are classes, courses, and other means of safety being implemented. Still, these kinds of accidents can still happen, but there are other reasons being a roofer has the potential to be very dangerous.

7 Pilots


Whether it’s flying around the world or a small private airline, getting paid to travel sounds like a dream: make a little money, see some interesting sights, meet all kinds of people – what could go wrong, right? Pushing aside the obvious reasons as to why being a pilot has become a dangerous career in recent years (like hijacking and being shot down), there are other factors that make it so risky.

Just like any other transportation-related job, fatigue can get the best of whoever’s behind the wheel. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the ground or up in the air, being tired serves as a risk. There’s also the weather to worry about, too. Storms are easy to monitor these days, and with the way technology is advancing, it’s becoming a lot easier to monitor. Still, there’s always room for error, but at least it’s becoming less of an issue these days.

6 Construction

With over 800 fatalities in 2014, it’s no wonder construction is one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. However, it’s one of those jobs that keeps life as we know it moving forward. Without construction workers, there wouldn’t be homes, schools, or other important infrastructure that makes up cities and towns. If it’s that important, what makes this particular job so dangerous?

Part of it has to do with the nature of the job. Weather conditions can’t be controlled, and it’s important to always be aware of what is happening to decrease the chances of getting injured – or worse. Similar to roofing, a lot of accidents happen with loose tools, unsecured materials, falling objects, and falls. Falls make up the majority of deaths in construction, which again, is preventable.

Other risks include being hit by vehicles like forklifts, burns from fires or equipment, using machinery improperly, cave-ins and collapses, and air contaminants from materials or chemicals.

5 Waste Collectors


Garbage collectors make a decent wage, but just as any other job on this list, it isn’t easy. There’s a stigma that comes with the job, and not everyone appreciates how much society relies on people to clean up after themselves. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it – safely, of course.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Garbage bags have been known to burst, causing all sorts of materials to end up all over the place. This includes plastic, glass, wood, and just about anything under the kitchen sink. Doesn’t help when people throw materials into the wrong receptacles, either. Picking up garbage is one thing, but digging through it to ensure everything is properly sorted is another. Top that off with all the potential hazards that employees breathe in – asbestos, cleaning products, and other substances.

That’s just for regular, every day garbage. For medical waste, there’s a whole different process. There are a number of other safety procedures to follow when picking up biohazards. Needles, dressings, radioactive materials, and other chemicals can’t just be picked up with a bare hand, and you can only imagine the consequences of coming in contact with those things.

4 Transport Truck Drivers

Driving itself can be dangerous: compared to say, flying in a plane or sailing on a boat, there’s a large number of cars, trucks, bikes, and other vehicles on the roads. Not all of them follow the rules, and with so many metal boxes crammed together, accidents are bound to happen. So imagine how a truck driver must feel when they’ve got not only themselves to worry about, but other drivers in smaller vehicles, and whatever cargo they’re carrying at the time.

Truck drivers are also subject to weather conditions. Sure, all drivers are, but while some can get out of slippery conditions by taking a bus or calling in sick to work, truck drivers aren’t always as fortunate. Sometimes these dangerous road conditions can cause accidents, and potentially death.

Fatigue and drowsiness are another reason for deaths. Falling asleep behind the wheel is always a hazard. Tired drivers can easily get into accidents, and being aware and awake isn’t the only safety concern. Sometimes drivers go too fast or don’t check their blind spots when changing lanes.

3 Taxis


Like any other driver on the road, taxi drivers – and Ubers for that matter - can get into car crashes, but there are other reasons as to why this job is so dangerous. There’s fatigue and getting tired, stress from driving and sitting all day, and potentially picking up ill passengers.

Essentially, picking up random strangers is what really makes the job so dangerous. There is always cash on hand, and driving in isolated areas doesn’t make things any better. There’s no telling who’s getting into that car since there’s no way to screen passengers. Think about it like this: just because people have places to go doesn’t mean they have a car to get there, and public transit isn’t always accessible. This service is offered to all kinds of people, and as such, some are less than desirable clients.

Stabbings, shootings, and other methods of murder aren’t uncommon. There are even a good number of drivers who have been left paralyzed from murders-gone-wrong. No matter how nice or “normal” a person can seem, it doesn’t exempt them from being dangerous and looking to make a quick buck.

2 Doctor/EMTs

Doctors and other medical professionals are always putting themselves at risk. Not only can they catch an illness such as the common cold or the flu, but depending on the circumstances of their specific job title, they can also be subject to risk of death.

For example, EMTs have calls to respond to, but they can’t pick and chose from the dispatcher’s list. Sometimes their destinations can get risky, such as a murderer still being present at the scene of a crime or asbestos in the building they need to enter. Some medical professionals have to worry about their environments, like those who work in war zones. Not to mention that in hospitals, ERs are accessible to all kinds of people, not just families. Those who may be intoxicated or in other states of mind are allowed access to care.

There’s also the fact that a large number of medical professionals have to work 80 hours a week. Again, being tired can alter job performances, and the stress from lack of sleep can take its toll on the body.

1  1. Veterinarian


Many people dream of working with animals as children. The idea of helping cute little Fido or Sparky get better from their illness is always a nice thought and a rewarding feeling follows. What not many people take into consideration is how dangerous it can be to work with animals. Even if the owner says Mr. Whiskers is gentle as can be, you can’t be 100% certain if that.

There are cases of pets who, as gentle as they may seem, have turned around and attacked their veterinarian. Attacks aren’t all that uncommon, and a scratch may look like a scratch, but if it becomes infected it can get much worse. Remember, some viruses or parasites can be transmitted from animals to humans. Rabies is a good example of this: the virus can cause animals to seem friendly, bite a human, and pass on to the next host.

There’s also the stress of taking care of animals. No one likes to see an injured cat or dog, but it’s even worse knowing that sometimes owners aren’t doing all they can to keep animals happy and healthy. It’s actually stated that vets have a high number of suicides because of it, too.

We’re just talking about regular house pets - zoo animals need their check ups, too. Imagine trying to give a tiger or lion an x-ray.


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