The amount of risk or danger involved in a particular job was never a factor for me when I considered my options right out of college. I am, after all, a recovering risk-taker. Like many young men in their 20s, I loved an adventure and would have welcomed the risky nature of any profession.
My initial plan coming out of high school was to go into the Marine Corp because of the adventure that it would offer. However, my dream was quickly squashed when I was rejected in the enlistment process because of asthma.
Over the years I have been a newspaper logistics coordinator (delivery boy), fast food chef, food-packing engineer (bagger), department store shelf redesigner (stocker), private airplane/jet detailer, restaurant manager, parcel sorter at UPS, retail loss prevention detective, and loss control consultant to name a few. I even volunteered my body to science (asthma studies) while in college to help pay for a couple of dates back in the day.
None of these jobs seem particularly dangerous, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t workplace hazards everywhere. My current job is to hunt out those hazards and help implement countermeasures so our clients can control the total cost of risk. Let’s look at some of the most current statistics, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor.
In 2011, 4,609 people lost their lives on the job – a rate equal to 3.5 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers. While that number is alarming, it is 2 percent less than 2010′s tally, when 4,690 workplace fatalities were recorded. What’s more, industries known for high fatality rates saw a downward trend in year-over-year deaths.
Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector declined to 721 in 2011 from 774 in 2010, a decline of 7 percent and the fifth consecutive year of lower fatality counts. Fatal construction injuries are down nearly 42 percent since 2006.
Interestingly, transportation incidents accounted for more than two out of every five fatal work injuries in 2011. Of the 1,898 transportation-related incidents, about 57 percent (1,075 cases) were roadway accidents involving motorized land vehicles.
Non-roadway incidents, such as a tractor overturned in a field, accounted for another 11 percent of the transportation-related fatal injuries. About 16 percent of fatal transportation incidents in 2011 involved pedestrians who were struck by vehicles. Of the 312 fatal work injuries involving pedestrians struck by vehicles, 61 occurred in work zones.
So what are the top 10 deadliest jobs in the United States? You might be surprised to see:
10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: Fatal work injury rate: 19.7. Number of fatal work injuries: 63. Median pay (2010): $22,440 a year — $10.79 an hour. Hazards: the number of hours logged behind the wheel of a vehicle; heavy traffic and other demanding situations; exposure to workplace violence, such as armed robbery.
9. Electrical power-line installers and repairmen/women: Fatal work injury rate: 20.3. Number of fatal work injuries: 27. Median pay: $54,290 a year — $26.10 an hour. Hazard: working with high-voltage electricity, often at great heights; physically demanding work; overtime work at all hours.
8. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: Fatal work injury rate: 24. Number of fatal work injuries: 759. Median pay: $27,050 a year — $13 an hour. Hazards: the number of hours logged behind the wheel of a vehicle; many hours spent behind the wheel.
7. Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers: Fatal work injury rate: 25.3. Number of fatal work injuries: 260. Median pay: $60,750 a year — $29.21 an hour. Hazards: operating large machinery; chemical and environmental hazards; long hours with close contact with heavy machinery and equipment.
6. Structural iron and steel workers: Fatal work injury rate: 26.9. Number of fatal work injuries: 16. Median pay: $44,540 a year — $21.42 an hour. Hazards: physically demanding work; work in inclement weather situations; work at great heights (bridges, scyscrapers, etc.).
5. Roofers: Fatal work injury rate: 31.8. Number of fatal work injuries: 56. Median pay: $34,220 a year — $16.45 an hour. Hazards: potential for falls; strenuous and exhausting work in all kinds of weather; work that involves heavy lifting, as well as climbing and bending.
4. Refuse and recyclable-material collectors: Fatal work injury rate: 41.2. Number of fatal work injuries: 34. Median pay: $22,560 a year — $10.85 an hour. Hazards: work that involves heavy lifting and handling of potentially dangerous materials; work around moving vehicles in high traffic areas.
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: Fatal work injury rate: 57. Number of fatal work injuries: 72. Median pay: $92,060 a year. Hazards: Flying all manner of aircraft, including small planes and helicopters, which are often used to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.
2. Logging workers: Fatal work injury rate: 102.4 Number of fatal work injuries: 64 Median pay: $32,870 a year — $15.80 an hour. Hazards: Working long hours outdoors in inclement weather, around heavy machinery; sometimes working high above the ground in isolated areas.
1. Fishers and related fishing workers: Fatal work injury rate: 121.2. Number of fatal work injuries: 40. Median pay: $25,590 a year — $12.30 an hour. Hazards: exposure to a number of workplace hazards, including large nets and motor-operated fishing lines, inclement weather, vessel disasters and falls overboard; being hours away form medical care.
Obviously, the most common denominators for many of these professions include moving vehicles and extreme heights; thus giving some credence to the phrases “Speed kills” and “If God wanted us to be that far off the ground he would have given us wings.”
Be safe, my friends.
Keven Moore is director of Risk Management Services for Roeding Insurance (www.roedinginsurance.com). He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at email@example.com.
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