In today’s developed world, jobs aren’t anywhere near as dangerous as they were back in the day. During the industrial revolution in the 17th and 18th centuries in the UK, there were all sorts of jobs that could lead to an early death or life threatening illness. Perhaps the worst job of all was the chimney sweep, an occupation suitable for the small body of a child. These children were often orphans, or sometimes poor kids nabbed from the streets. The workhouses weren’t any better, places where children were malnourished and worked almost constantly. Then in the 19th century, the working class Brits faced the harsh occupation of coal mining, something writer George Orwell investigated, resulting in his utter dismay of the working conditions he found. Are any jobs that dangerous today?
We are going to stick with the developed world for this show, as most of our readers will be able to relate to these jobs and may even work in that particular occupation. We do, however, want to say that around the less developed world, there are many jobs more dangerous than you’ll see on this list. Fishing or mining for instance is certainly more dangerous in some parts of Africa than in the USA, and we cannot compare infrastructure and health and safety of a coltan mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a coal mine in the UK. Mining is still a dangerous job, though, wherever you go. The last terrible mining accident in the US happened as recently as 2010, when 29 people lost their lives at Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia due to an explosion. Though if we look at the US Bureau of Labor statistics as well as the UK’s Office for National Statistics regarding workplace mortality figures, mining is not even listed in the top ten of the most dangerous jobs. Today we’ll focus mainly on those two countries due to the availability of statistics in English, but also because the jobs are common around the world.
As motor companies such as Tesla, Ford and General Motors promise us that their self-driving tech is almost ready to take to the roads, we are told this will lead to less accidents occurring while driving. Drivers, whether they are truck drivers, taxi drivers or motorcycle couriers, have one of the most dangerous occupations. This is probably a far safer occupation in the UK and US than in some developing nations. The average death toll from traffic accidents around the world is 17.4 people per 100,000. In the US it’s 10.6 and in the UK just 2.9. The worst countries are the Dominican Republic at 41.7 and Thailand at 38.1. Imagine being a driver in one of those countries! The last available statistics tell us that in the USA, 880 truck drivers died in a year in accidents, and those that lasted the year earned an average of $38,030. The UK saw 41 deaths of truck drivers – although they say “lorry driver” in the UK. They earn slightly less at an average of $31,151. The US also has taxi driving high on its list. When the study was taken it found that 68 people died in one year while behind the wheel of a taxi or a hired private car.
Another dangerous job in those two countries, and the world over, is fishing. It’s said to be the second most dangerous job in the USA, even though only 22 people died the year the statistics were taken. Not so many people work in the industry, though, so the death per capita at 80.8 per 100,000 is very high. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, and when equipment malfunctions or bad weather sets in, these workers may have a perilous journey through the seas. The UK doesn’t have fishing on the list, but in just 6 months in 2016, the industry had a slew of incidents that resulted in the loss of 9 workers. After that bad period, research was undertaken to see how dangerous the job was. It was revealed that 55 percent of British fishers had suffered injuries on the job, including amputations and fractures. The average wage for a UK fisher is anywhere from 13,000 – 26,000 dollars a year. In the US the average yearly wage is $29,970.
Sticking with the UK, their most dangerous job at the moment is farming. Farming in the UK resulted in 167 deaths in 2016. This was mainly due to heavy industrial machinery, although in 2017 the UK media reported a case in which a farmer died after his pet pig bit off his penis and three fingers. According to the media, the man had started the fight. This is one tough job, and one in which the average worker in the UK will receive about 29,524 dollars a year. Farming is also on the US’s most dangerous list, with 26.7 per 100,000 workers dying on the job and 270 workers dying in one year. American farmers earn much more though on average, with a yearly wage of 69,880 dollars, but we think the UK figure is probably for farm laborers only. To give you an idea of the danger, in 2016, an American farmer was killed by what was called a deadly dome of manure. When he broke the hard outer shell of the mound of excrement, a deadly fog of methane and sulfur dioxide killed him and 16 of his cows.
Another job on both lists is construction worker, or builder in the UK. In the USA, it was reported that 19.2 per 100,000 workers died in one year, or 25 in total. Again, heavy machinery is to blame, but also falls or being electrocuted. For such a small country, 101 construction deaths in the UK might come as a bit of a surprise. The average wage for a construction laborer in the UK is about 24,091 dollars a year. In the US, it’s about 31,090 dollars. Part of construction is roofing, and that in itself is a dangerous job. It accounts for about 47.4 per 100,000 deaths of workers in the USA. That was 83 deaths in one year. Falls are obviously to blame here, but many workers break bones when they don’t lose their life. In the UK, it’s also up there on the most dangerous jobs list with 69 deaths in one year, but that study also included people working on scaffolds. The average wage in the UK for this dangerous occupation is about 32,265 dollars a year. In the US it’s 40,630 dollars a year. Sticking with similar trades, the UK also has electrical, plumbing and other installation down as a dangerous job, one that resulted in 26 deaths in one year. The US did not have this on its list, but did have electrical power line installers and repairers, jobs that resulted in 25 losses of life in one year.
Now on to another job that made both the UK and US list. That job is garbage collection, or in the UK waste collection or less formally “bin man”. In the US this difficult and sometimes malodourous occupation was the cause of 35.8 people dying per 100,000 workers in one year. That was 27 deaths in total. Doing the same job on the streets of the UK resulted in 20 deaths in one year. How much do they get on average for this difficult job? In the US, 36,370 dollars a year on average, and in the UK 23,440 dollars a year on average. You might ask how do they die? In a story published in the Atlantic called “The Dangerous Life of a Trash Collector,” the interviewee explains that if you are complacent in this job, “you’re basically looking for death”. He said the machinery itself can be dangerous, as is some of the waste they collect. You are also driving all day, and we already know how dangerous that is.
Surely being a police officer is more dangerous? As you’ll know from our other show on UK and US police, only a handful of UK officers are killed on the job each year. Nonetheless, research also said a British cop was assaulted every 13 seconds, sometimes with a deadly weapon. US cops carry deadly weapons and so are assaulted less, but in 2016, 135 police officers died in the line of duty. 64 officers were shot and killed, 53 died in car accidents, and the rest died from job-related illness. Soldier deaths in both countries are much lower, but we all know it can be a very dangerous job. However, the most dangerous job in the US is none of the above. It’s actually the job of logging, something they don’t do much of in the UK as they don’t have many trees. It’s listed as the most dangerous job in the US with 110.9 per 100,000 workers losing their lives in one year. That was 78 deaths in all.
This brings us to the end of our show? Have you worked in any of these jobs? If not, what’s the most dangerous job you’ve ever had? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called 10 Surprisingly High Paying Jobs! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!