The United States of America is the wealthiest country in the world, but it also has one of the highest rates of workplace fatalities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks work-related deaths on American soil, and they have compiled a list of jobs with the highest fatality rate. These jobs don’t come with much money or prestige, but if you want to make your living as an electrician or construction worker, here’s what you can expect:
If you want money, construction sites are a great place to go looking for it – if you can make it out alive. Construction is a hazardous occupation in America, where workers do the heavy lifting and spend their day building homes and office buildings, among other structures. They work with powerful equipment where many accidents can happen. In addition to being at risk for injuries from falling off ledges or scaffolding, these workers also face exposure hazards that include asbestos, lead paint, or silica dust from cutting concrete.
Electricians work with high voltage electricity on a daily basis, and that’s very dangerous. It takes a long time to get certified as an electrician, but the work never stops once you’re in the business of wiring up homes and businesses for power. Workers can be electrocuted if they touch live wires or contact faulty electrical equipment. They also face chemical exposure from insulation materials, ultraviolet light from arc welding, fire hazards from hot surfaces or open flames, and noise-induced hearing loss from working around loud machinery all day long.
When you hear the phrase “logging worker,” images of lumberjacks hacking away at giant old-growth trees come to mind – and that’s not too far from the truth. Logging workers scale mighty trees and cut them down for harvesting. They are exposed to rough weather conditions, heavy lifting, sharp tools, heavy machinery, electrical hazards in the form of cables or power lines nearby, chemical exposure, injury by falling off equipment or structures near moving logs, plus noise-induced hearing loss.
Farmworkers are often paid by harvesting or producing crops, which means more work for less pay. Working outside in all weather conditions, these workers face pesticide exposure from crop spraying, injury due to moving heavy equipment including tractors and plows, rough weather conditions that increase the danger of falling down hillsides or into ditches or washes, injuries due to working with sharp tools like hoes and scythes, electrical hazards if they touch any cables during their workday, noise-induced hearing loss due to working around machinery including tractors and other farm vehicles.
Fishermen work on boats at sea for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time. Even though they spend most of their time far away from land, these workers face rough weather conditions. These include waves and high winds, exposure to highly corrosive saltwater, exposure to chemicals in fish guts and cleaning materials, injury from working with heavy fishing equipment, including nets and fish traps, and exposure to noise-induced hearing loss from loud machinery engines operating nearly 24/7 while at sea.
Ironworkers face danger all day long while they’re working on top of skyscrapers, sometimes walking over narrow beams with no safety harnesses. Ironworkers work at very high altitudes to lay down the beams and girders that hold up big buildings. They often spend days or weeks away from home and their families, and this kind of schedule adds additional stress to workers in already dangerous jobs. In addition to falling, injury due to slips and falls is a significant concern for ironworkers. Many injuries happen when workers slip or lose their balance near edges where there’s nothing to break a fall before hitting the ground below.
Firefighters are often called to fight fires in some of Earth’s largest, most populated places. When they respond to a call, they have no idea what kind of danger they’ll face on the way or once they arrive at their destination. Firefighters run toward danger while everyone else runs away from it. They’ve been exposed to asbestos while searching through heavy smoke for victims, dangerous gases including methane and hydrogen sulfide that can cause injury if they’re inhaled, injuries due to falling down stairs or off roofs where there’s nothing below them but asphalt or concrete if they lose their footing.
Truck drivers work long hours, spending days or weeks away from home and their families. Most truckers have to be out on the road for a certain amount of time before they can go back home again, which means they’re disconnected from their loved ones for weeks or months at a time. In addition to the mental stress of this kind of schedule, truck drivers face dangers while driving vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, including crashes, from losing control of their vehicles and falling asleep at the wheel.
The dangers associated with coal mining make it the most dangerous job in America today. Miners spend their days in dark, remote caves where they chip away at rocks and minerals with heavy pickaxes. These men and women risk death every day because no one can get to them if something goes wrong underground. Miners are exposed to low levels of radiation from the materials they’re working with, possible cave-ins or roof collapses that trap them without escape, plus injury due to falls, slips, or getting hit by flying rock while working in close conditions. The high rate of injuries has caused more than 40 percent of coal miners to suffer from black lung disease.
These are the most dangerous jobs in America. They often involve hazardous materials and a high risk of fatal injuries. Construction workers, firefighters, police officers, and truck drivers are among the most at-risk professions in America. Make sure to avoid these careers if you want to stay safe!