Every day, trade workers in particular face several dangers, ranging from breakdowns in construction machinery to falling debris to working on top of a high-rise building. Each industry has its share of dangerous jobs, with varying hazard levels. The risk level of any trade is often determined by the death rate within that industry or field. A recent report by consultancy Advisorsmith found that those self-employed were 3.3 times more likely to die in the workplace than employees. Insufficient safety and no enforcement of regulation can be the difference between life and death.
Before analyzing the most dangerous jobs within the trade industry, it is important to acknowledge that in 2018, 69% of the workers who died were employed either in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, transport, postal and warehousing industries, the construction or mining sectors. Some jobs in the construction industry are more dangerous than others. Construction workers are exposed to extreme temperatures, operate heavy machinery, work at considerable heights, and are exposed to numerous risks. The most dangerous jobs carry an above-average risk of serious injury or death.
The sector with the highest death rate is the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry, which is largely made up of workers employed in agribusiness. The majority are farmers that live in regional Australia manage their own properties. Within this industry, around one in two workers are self-employed which is the highest percentage of any industry. Approximately 40% of workers are above the age of 55, which again is the highest of any industry. Additionally, this sector also has the second-highest injury and illness rate. Workers in this industry often put themselves in harm’s way.
Some specific examples of risks include farm machinery causing about half of all hospitalizations among agriculture workers, resulting in traumatic injuries or even death. Similarly, those working in the logging industry repairing and maintaining big machinery also face these risks. Injury-related risks include repetitive motion injuries leading to sprains, strains, tears, fractures, or breaks. Working in trade can be quite laborious, having a significant impact on an individual’s overall physical health. Although the monetary reward for this sector of employees can be quite high, those working for themselves are often more carefree in their approach, which means safety regulations and rules are not strictly followed, leading to injures and death.
The transport, postal, and warehousing industry revolves around the movement of people and goods by rail, road, and air. Top employing occupations in this field include truck drivers, automobile drivers, forklift drivers, air transport professionals, crane drivers etc. The statistic of self-employment in this industry demonstrates one in five. Many work part-time doing contract work with flexible hours, often through late hours of the night. Truck drivers and air transport professionals earn a significant amount of money, although the risks involved with this job can often be fatal.
Construction involves occupations in building maintenance and renovation, included in the building sector. This industry involves the demolition and construction of infrastructure. Generating over $360 billion in revenue with a projected annual growth rate of 2.4% in the next five years. Jobs within this industry include elevator installers or repairers, boilermakers, electricians, plumbers, air compressor repairers etc. Elevator repair and installation workers earn the highest pay in the construction industry. People who work in this profession also repair escalators, moving walkways, and other types of lifts for people or products. Working around machinery like this can often be dangerous, with such heavy reliance on the machine to not malfunction, things inevitably go wrong when they do. It is common for workers to lose limbs or even get squished and killed. Boilermakers install, repair, and assemble large containers that hold liquids and gases. One of the most common hazards is being struck by an object. When working in this profession, workers must be wary of heavy objects or tools. Loud noises and exposure to long periods of intrusive sounds can damage your eardrum and overall hearing. High heat is another risk, with exposure to flames, objects, gas, or liquids that are hot enough to cause serious burns. Protection should be worn, and safety measures abided by. Respiratory issues can also be caused by fumes or toxins in construction zones, industrial air compressors can help circulate healthy air. The most common cause of death among construction workers is a fall (39 percent), with steel frame workers accounting for the largest proportion of fall victims. This is why safety harnessing is essential, as well as appropriate training, an example would be those workers climbing up a crane. General construction workers perform a wide range of tasks by working in trenches, scales, and scaffolding. Electricians and plumbers are also dangerous occupations in the construction industry, especially those working on commercial sites on top of high-rise buildings.
The mining industry holds the largest slice of the Australian economy, delivering a 1.4% share and contributing $202 billion GDP according to the Bureau of Statistics. Mines are often home to very dangerous gases. These include carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and so on. Due to confined spaces, the gases are not always able to escape, therefore building up within the mine. Due to their combustible, explosive, or toxic qualities, these can cause serious threats to any human body. Long-term effects include respiratory-related issues such as asbestosis, silicosis, or pneumoconiosis. Additionally, exposure to radioactive gases such as Radon is emitted, causing lung cancer. Mining accidents can office from a variety of causes including leaks, poisonous gases, dust explosions, mine stopes collapsing, flooding, or general mechanical errors. Operators, technicians, and miners make a minimum of $150,000 per annum. Underground miners earn more than this amount due to the high-risk nature of the role. Often, being away for months or years at a time can impact not just your physical health but your mental health. Interestingly, may have heard the term ‘other mining worker’ in the world of life insurance. It includes workers on oil rigs, mining platforms, construction, demos, cleanups, and other industries involved in the extraction and cleanup of natural resources. If you specialize in one of these areas or work with heavy, dangerous equipment, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find life insurance.
Naturally, some people are born to work in these high-risk environments. Most enjoy the thrill and ‘adrenaline rush’ the job brings to their life. More often than not though, it is the hefty paycheck that makes the most dangerous jobs worth risking your life for.