A worker dies on the job every 101 minutes in the United States. But some jobs are more dangerous than others.
For those of us who work in offices, stores, or restaurants – or increasingly at our computers from home – our jobs don’t require risking life and limb on a regular basis. Or ever.
But there are people who work in occupations that often demand exceptional courage, personal resilience, and acute situational awareness. For them, a seemingly minor mistake might lead to serious injury, or even death.
Here are five of the most dangerous jobs you can do.
When flames engulf homes and businesses, or entire forests, firefighters rise to the challenge. Their acts of heroism define the essence of courage, as they confront roaring infernos, toxic smoke, and collapsing structures. They are also often the first of the first responders to accidents and medical emergencies. Understandably, the physical and emotional toll of their profession can be immense. The number of fatalities among firefighters has been declining over the past few decades, but in a typical 21st century year, around 65–70 lose their lives.
Marvel at the courage of firefighters in MagellanTV's Facing the Fire.
Lumberjacks venture deep into forests to cut down trees and transport them to the shops and manufacturing sites where wood is used to craft materials that shape our lives. The cacophony of chainsaws and heavy machinery contrasts sharply with the peaceful, sylvan workplace. The threat of falling trees, the tricky logging tools, and the rugged terrain all conspire to create a treacherous environment. In the U.S., around 70 lumberjacks die in the course of their work annually.
Also reporting to work in a deceptively beautiful setting, the men and women of the commercial fishing industry face daily danger. The allure of abundant catches should be tempered by the ever-changing conditions at sea. After all, who wants to have their fishing boat capsized by a rogue wave? But, as fisheries are depleted, the temptation to take unwise risks in pursuit of those catches may increase. Storms, faulty machinery, falls overboard, and other causes kill an average of around 43 workers in this job each year.
Have you ever taken note of roofers toiling to replace a house’s shingles on a hot summer day? It might look like a pretty mundane job, but think again. It’s tough working in torrid or otherwise inclement weather, while struggling with unwieldy tools and machinery. If you lose your balance, gravity’s pull can be irresistible. A fall from a roof will almost certainly result in serious injury – and all too often in death itself, as was the case over 100 times in 2020 in the U.S.
Structural Iron and Steel Working
The workers who create the skylines of our urban landscapes are a special breed. Imagine going to work hundreds of feet in the air and fitting together the cold steel skeleton of a modern skyscraper. The risks of a misstep or a momentary lapse of concentration loom large, and it’s not hard to imagine that tragic accidents happen from time to time. In fact, 18 workers in this industry died in the U.S. in work-related incidents in 2019.
Working high up without safety harnesses (Credit: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, via Wikimedia Commons)
Title Image source: Pixabay