Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy… We’ve all bad days at the office and most of us, at some time or another, hate our jobs and long to do something else. But what if your job was so hard, so stressful or dangerous that it could kill you?
Why do some men and women take on dangerous professions and what do those jobs involve? We’ve come up with thirteen of the most dangerous jobs you don’t want.
1. Crab fisherman
If you’ve ever been crabbing you’ll know just how dangerous those claws can be. But it isn’t the crabs that make a commercial crab fisherman’s life so dangerous. Crab fishing is all about very long hours in very rough seas. Fishermen work for up to 20+ hours at a stretch searching for crab. A good catch can earn tens of thousands of dollars, but the cost of failure can be a watery grave.
2. Deep Sea Diver
The deeper you dive the more you earn and the more dangerous it gets. According to the ‘Dangerous Jobs Guide’, some divers working on offshore oil rigs can earn over $100,000 a year. If you want to become a deep sea diver you will need to train for six or seven months in diving, welding, physics, keeping calm under stress and it obviously helps if you can swim.
Chauffeurs, Taxi Drivers, Truck Drivers; with tight deadlines, long hours and the ever growing number of vehicles on the road, accidents are common. With a fatality rate of 20 in a 100,000, driving for a living really is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth. So, if you want a tip, don’t become a London cabbie – according to the ‘Discovery Channel’ it’s the toughest job in the UK.
There’s no more dangerous job in sport than that of a professional jump jockey. Skydivers, motorbike racers, formula 1 drivers, even boxers run less risk of being killed or seriously injured than the riders of thoroughbreds. Riding in a race like The Grand National isn’t for the faint-hearted and one Australian study, covering more than 75,000 races, recorded 3360 race falls which resulted in 861 serious injuries and five jockey deaths. It remains the only job where an ambulance follows you around!
5. Window Cleaner
If you want a high level job, they don’t get much higher than cleaning the windows of a skyscraper. Even in our health and safety mad society – with safety harnesses, helmets and cradles – the dangers of abseiling 30-storey buildings claims several lives each year. In Britain, skyscraper window cleaning is recognised as the most dangerous job on land and only adrenaline junkies with nerves of steel need apply.
6. Bomb Disposal Expert
Trying to deactivate bombs, missiles and land mines, sometimes under enemy fire, has to be one of the most terrifying jobs in the world. Bomb disposal units are often called upon to investigate potential terrorist threats, and whilst robots can clear around 80 per cent with certainty, hands-on deactivation is sometimes the only safe and effective option. The job resulted in at least 500 deaths in the US from 1996 to 2002.
It might sound like an easy-going and peaceful occupation, but the job of a farmer isn’t always as tranquil as it appears to be. It’s the oldest male profession in the world, but the job is fraught with weather-related risks, heavy machinery accidents, and livestock dangers. In the UK an average of 36 deaths per year was recorded over the last five years.
You’d expect the job of a test or fighter pilot to be dangerous, and the fatality rate of rescue operation pilots is as high as 78 per 100,000. But pilots who fly in Alaska seem to have the toughest flying job of all. The land is rugged and sparsely populated, with pilots flying twin-engine planes for medical emergencies, supply delivery and to travel across the vast state. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, there were over 1100 plane crashes in Alaska, with an average of 21 deaths per year between 2006 and 2011.
It isn’t all saving cats stuck up trees and sliding down poles. Firefighters have to be well-trained, physically fit, cautious and brave. You only have to remember 9/ll to realise how dangerous the life of a fire fighter can be; 341 fire fighters were killed in the aftermath of the attack, the largest number ever killed in a single incident. In the UK eight firemen died on duty in 2007 alone, the worst year since 1985.
A policeman’s lot is sometimes not a happy one. Even in these times of bullet-proof vests, gas masks, shields, and batons the job of the police is becoming more dangerous with each passing year. In the last 100 years 548 policemen have been killed in Britain alone. This includes 300 officers in Northern Ireland killed, often executed, during the troubles. Around half of all the fatalities these days involve vehicles.
Whether it’s an oil rig or a copper mine, diamonds or coal, mining for natural resources has always been a deadly occupation. Above ground, gas and oil wells can blow unexpectedly, walls of slate can fall. For those who toil underground in mines, there’s always the risk of tunnel collapses, tumbling rock, and falls down the mine shaft. For every 100,000 workers in the mining industry, 38 lost their lives in 2011.
It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. But incredibly, the seemingly everyday job of garbage collecting is more dangerous than policing or fire fighting. With 36.4 fatal injuries a year per 100,000 workers, this is a high risk profession. Garbage bags can explode under pressure, releasing dangerous chemicals, broken glass, syringes – and anything might suddenly become a lethal projectile. Sixty per cent of injuries are from transportation – falls from the back of collection trucks in moving traffic whilst using compacting equipment.
This list wouldn’t be complete without recognising those brave men and women who serve in the armed forces. There is no more dangerous job in the world, particularly in times of conflict. A soldier’s life can be ended with the pull of a sniper’s trigger, the detonation of a bomb in a booby-trapped building, even in a training exercise. In terms of total numbers of lives lost and terrible injuries, there’s no more dangerous or stressful job than to become a member of the fighting forces.