Most people consider the 5 most dangerous jobs in the world to include police officer, firefighter and soldier. Interestingly, police officer and firefighter do not make the top five. We can only quote American statistics because there are no fully reliable world-wide records to use. In this article we will keep to regular jobs rather than include the sulphur miners of Java, hazmat crews and bush pilots. While they have a very high mortality rate, there are relatively few of them compared to sailors and construction workers.
It is interesting to note that, despite the lack of world-wide numerical statistics, the same job titles keep coming up. It does not seem to matter whether we look at North America, South America, Europe or Australasia we see the same job descriptions. In this article we will define ‘dangerous’ as deaths recorded per 100,000 workers in the USA.
With the world’s highest mortality rate this is, by far, the most dangerous job. These people are far from land, working in dangerous weather and high seas. If the ship goes down, the chances are that all hands will be lost. Other accidental deaths are usually caused by one person falling overboard. Other deaths are caused by accidents when using heavy equipment, such as net winches, and by falls onto the deck or down into the bowels of the ship. Fall protection is as important at sea as it is on land.
Loggers and lumberjacks
This category is second on the list because they operate heavy equipment and mechanical saws in difficult conditions. They work high up cutting off tree limbs before felling the tree itself. They work in rain, snow and high wind, and they often work on unstable and sloping ground. They work in isolated locations away from easy access to skilled medical care. Some surveys put loggers above fishers on the dangerous jobs list and quote a death rate that is thirty times that of the ‘average’ worker.
Roofers, in the United States, have a mortality rate of 47 per 100,000. Roof height, gradient, slippery surfaces, skylights, wind and rain all contribute to the ever-present danger of serious injury or death by falling.
Other Construction Workers
The next dangerous job category includes laborers who, for example, erect scaffolding, and die at the rate of 18.76 per 100,000, general helpers who unload materials that have been delivered by crane to the top of a building. They have a death rate of 15.28 per 100,000. Finally, we must also include construction trade managers who die at the rate of 15.96 per 100,000.
Structural Iron and Steel Workers
At 37 deaths per 100,000, the guys who erect those huge girders work on the world’s sixth most dangerous job. It is not only the wind that can cause someone to lose their balance and fall; electric shocks are common, being struck by an object that someone else has dropped, and malfunctioning machine tools all cause accidents.
Many different trades have one thing in common; they have a high mortality rate. There are many causes of accidental death but their common factor is an unimpeded fall from heights. Death and serious injury can be reduced by greater awareness of the inherent dangers and by ensuring that every worker has been trained to use, and does use a fall protection system that has been designed for the purpose, installed correctly and is easy to use.