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Is a Job Worth Your Life?

by Ryan Guina

The recent mine disaster in Huntington, Utah, in which 6 miners are still missing, has again brought national attention to the dangers of mining and other hazardous jobs. While there have been several mining disasters in the United States over the last 2 years, according to the United States Department Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, mining is not actually considered the most dangerous job in the US. In fact, it is not even in the top 10. (Read the official report in its entirety – National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2006.)

According to the top 10 list, fishermen have the highest fatality rate at 142 deaths per 100,000 workers. Pilots, loggers, structural steelworkers, refuse collectors, farmers, power linemen, roofers, drivers, and agricultural workers round out the top 10. Some of these dangerous jobs are also among the the 10 most underpaid jobs in America.

Most Hazardous Jobs and Professions:

The Deadliest Profession – The Deadliest Catch. Commercial fishing is the most dangerous profession in the US. The Discovery Channel has profited immensely by syndicating a reality show, Deadliest Catch, which chronicles the fishing exploits of several crews fishing in the Bearing Straight for Alaskan king crab. The rewards are high, but the risks are higher. Wikipedia states Alaskan crab fisherman have a fatality rate of over 300 per 100,000 workers. According to the Discovery website, “There is a 100% injury rate, and deaths occur among the fishermen every week.” But there is also the possibility for fisherman to earn up to $100,000 for only a few days work. The Alaskan crab industry is worth over $65 million a year.

The Military. As a veteran of the USAF, I can relate to the thousands of service members facing extreme levels of personal danger on a daily basis. I pray for them often and thank them for their service and sacrifices. The reason most of them do this is not for a paycheck, but for greater reasons such as patriotism, honor, and duty.

On a personal level, I have been in designated war zones on multiple occasions. I have carried a weapon, felt the ground shake from mortars, and witnessed tracer rounds at a distance, but thankfully, I have never been in a direct firefight. Though I was in some danger, I never felt as though I was in extreme danger for my life.

Public Servants. Firefighters, police officers, EMTs. Everyday they put their lives at risk so that others may live. I don’t think we can thank them enough for their services to our society.

An entertainer to the end. A couple weeks ago my wife and I were attending an air show when we witnessed one of the stunt planes crash. Pilot Jim LeRoy was a Marine, engineer, and entertainer. He was also a husband and a father. He was a great pilot and entertainer, and he knew the risks he took every time he flew his acrobatic stunt show. After his stunt plane crashed, the emergency crews reached the crash site within 2 minutes. Unfortunately there was nothing they could do. Mr. LeRoy died doing what he loved best – entertaining thousands of people at air shows. He left behind a wife and 4 year old son. He was only 46 years old. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family and friends.

Why work in a dangerous profession?

There are many reasons people work in dangerous occupations. Sometimes dangerous jobs are the only jobs available in certain communities, such as logging, mill work, and fishing. Many times there may be other jobs in the community, but none that pay as well as the more dangerous jobs. Others take dangerous jobs in order to serve and protect others.

The decision to leave a dangerous job is not always as easy as it may seem. For some people, this is the only profession they know. Others need the money. In many communities there is no other work. Some place duty, honor, and service above their own personal safety and put their lives at risk in order to serve others. As for me, I played my small part. After more than 6 years service in the USAF I left my previous position in the profession of arms for that of a less dangerous and more stable profession. To those who serve, and to those who work in a dangerous profession so that the rest of us may enjoy the standard of living we have come to expect, I salute you.


Published or updated September 7, 2010.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 plonkee

Although I agree with your sentiments, there is also the reality that people take on dangerous jobs because they like the adrenaline rush it brings. Over here in the UK where there is very strict gun control, I reckon some people in the Army join so that they can use guns and explosives.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, and I’m not saying they aren’t worthwhile people. Its just that dangerous jobs have their own appeal and its wrong to pretend otherwise.

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2 Ryan

Plonkee, you’re absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing that out. I’m sure many people here in the US do similar things as well. It’s not every day you can go out and ride around in a tank or other military vehicle.

There are also other non-military jobs that provied an adrenaline rush. I’m sure the stunt pilot performed not only because he loved to fly, but also because of the rush he got performing loops, high speed passes, and other acrobatic manouevers.

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3 Xerloq

I the the President of the United States is the most hazardous job. Nearly 10% (4 out of 43) of presidents were *murdered* on the job. 13 others were ‘nearly’ assassinated. Granted, your average Joe won’t become the President, but 10% is higher than 0.3%.

My $0.02.

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4 Ryan

Xerloq,

I agree, the President’s job is, by nature, one that puts him and his family in immediate danger. Just like the other jobs mentioned in this article, the President is fully aware of the dangers he may face when he takes office.

In this article I tried to focus on jobs that the average American can work, but by no means is this a comprehensive list.

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