What are the Deadliest Professions?
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,867 U.S. citizens died from fatal workplace injuries in 2015. It’s a major decrease from the early 90’s when the BLS found that 6,632 workers died between 1993 and 1994. Still, there was a slight increase from 2014 to 2015 in worker deaths. The popular opinion is that stricter safety regulations and more advanced job-related equipment continue to increase job safety for these deadliest professions, but safety experts disagree. Maybe we’ve reached a turning point?
While regulations and engineering most likely had a heavy hand in making jobs safer from the 90’s until now, these strategies can only help for so long. There are several explanations as to why, like the phenomenon of risk homeostasis. What this article focuses on, though, is making those deadliest professions safer through human factors, such as education and training, paired with regulations and engineering safer equipment.
Solid Waste Collectors
Last year, 33 solid waste employees died on the job at a rate of 38.8 per 100,000 in industry. Crazy to think that the people picking up our garbage are risking their lives to do so. Most of these deaths happened during pick-up where collectors were struck by passing vehicles or crushed by equipment. In addition, 60 people died last year in collisions between amateur drivers and solid waste trucks or equipment.
This is one of the deadliest professions largely due to human factors. Many sanitation departments lack formal or adequate job training. Secondly, contrary to the others on the list, the solid waste department is behind on regulations. Think about a school bus. When it stops with its lights on, it is a strict law that you must stop too. With solid waste vehicles, it’s the norm to speed by when they’re stopped on the street.
Tragically, a total of 75 commercial roofers died from work related injuries last year alone. It’s no surprise that most of these deaths were results of workers falling. Workers of small contract companies are more likely to have fatal work injuries than those of large companies. Is it due to poor equipment? Equipment malfunctions might play a role, but it’s doubtful that the ladders of major companies are any safer. It’s more likely related to human factors. Small companies are less likely to formally train employees on job-related risks. Additionally, they wouldn’t have standardized hiring procedures to weed out anyone likely to take unnecessary risks.
The news does enough to show the dangers of flying. When airline crashes happen, they’re disastrous. However, the 57 pilots killed last year alone includes very few commercial pilots. It’s mostly bush-pilots, air-taxi operators, and small commercial flyers. They’re usually inexperienced, less likely to properly maintain their planes, and more likely to fly over dangerous terrain.
Unfortunately, there may be little that can be done to decrease this number. Some people are born risk takers. More regulations won’t stop bush-pilots from making dangerous flights, and it’s unrealistic to implement a holistic training program for non-commercial flyers.
Last year, 23 commercial fishers and related employees died at work. It’s less deaths than the other four, but at a rate of 54.8, it’s a severely dangerous field. While this number has steadily improved from an average of 58 deaths per year between 1993 and 2008, it remains at number two. Almost all the work-related deaths in this field can be attributed to fall-overs and vessel disasters. In both cases, human factors have an impact. Developing on-deck safety training programs plus formalized training for vessel operators could prevent future deadly accidents.
The number one deadly Job in the U.S. is logging. 67 loggers died last year at a rate of 132.7. As to what conditions make this job deadly, where do we begin? Dangerous equipment malfunctions, falls, and employees struck by trees or debris all contribute to the staggering risk loggers face every day.
With a field as disastrous as this, we need multiple strategies to have an impact. Companies need Safety Leadership Training, formalized hiring systems, education and training for safer job performance, and an examination of equipment standards to improve the work-lives of loggers.