Seven Seriously Dangerous Career Paths

We don’t all go in to work wondering if we’re going to end the day alive, but for people in some jobs, thoughts like that are a reality. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, a program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, keeps track of the number of work-related fatalities. Their most recent report shows a trend toward a safer workplace; in 2010, there were 4,547 deaths, compared to 5,734 in 2005. That’s good news, but what’s not so encouraging is that the same jobs show up on the list year after year. In no particular order, here’s a list of the seven most dangerous jobs in America.

  1. Steelworker: The BLS says that any worker in this or the structural iron field shouldn’t be afraid of heights; a steelworker’s job is to upgrade buildings or erect new ones, and the work involves climbing with a high potential for falls. Like most of the other jobs on this list, steelworkers face danger that depends on the weather, with windy or icy conditions being the most dangerous. Workers with these skills would be much safer using welding equipment in a factory.
  2. Roofer: This is such a demanding job that the BLS lists it as one of the occupations with the highest number of openings. Your workplace is on top of a building, which can be a very dangerous spot to be. Risks include falls from scaffolding and ladders, burns from hot roofing tar, and heat stroke.
  3. Ranchers and farmers: Farming is not only a dangerous job, it’s one of the most stressful. The strain comes from a feeling of uncertainty- not knowing how crops will do or how much profit will be made. The stress of the job can lead to illnesses like hypertension, heart disease, and ulcers. Not only that, but farmers and ranchers also use dangerous equipment every day.
  4. Extraction workers: This rather broad category includes miners and drillers. Being quite similar to logging, these jobs almost always involve using large and dangerous machinery. The biggest dangers are large-scale, such as oil rig explosions and mine collapses. When workers are required to remove or carry materials like asbestos or nuclear waste, danger goes up exponentially.
  5. Pilot: Those just starting their career do so with four thousand hours of flight experience- which translates to a lot of time spent flying, managing instruments, not getting enough sleep, and a lot of other things. A pilot’s duties vary from one industry to the next, and so do the hazards.
  6. Lumberjack/logger: They spend their days cutting down trees and carrying logs. Trees are of course heavy, and can be lethal if one falls on you. Weather conditions are often dangerous, as is the machinery used.
  7. Fishermen: Commercial fishing is at the top of the list of America’s most dangerous jobs. According to the NIOH (National Institute for Occupational Hazards), the high risk of death comes from dangers like inclement weather, rogue waves, unstable vessels, sickness, and even the equipment used in the job.

There you have them- the seven most dangerous careers you can have. Whether you’re cutting down trees, using welding rotators, mining, flying, farming or fishing, these jobs take more than just skill- you’ll have to have nerves of steel, too.

This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Westermans, experts in welding equipment such as welding rotators. Visit their site to see their full range of welding equipment including welding rotators.

Photo: Anthony Easton