18 of the Most Dangerous Jobs Around the World

Earning a living could cost you your life if you have one of these risky careers.

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Cross section of the timber
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The only thing scarier than chopping down a tall, heavy tree is operating heavy machinery to take one down while you’re suspended in the air. An investigation by the Globe and Mail, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, found that forestry had the 10th highest number of traumatic injury fatalities, with 57 deaths between 2011 and 2015. It also found that it was the second deadliest industry in Canada.

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plastic bottles
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Trash and recycling collectors

The median annual salary for American waste workers is $40,000, but some make $100,000 or more annually. They earn that money by keeping streets clean, handling stinky refuse, and risking their lives on a daily basis. Trash and recycling collectors have the fifth most dangerous job in the United States. According to the latest data from the BLS, 31 total deaths were recorded in 2016, many from workers falling off trucks, getting hit by vehicles while on the job, or accidents with machinery.

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Underwater welders

Electricity and water are usually two things that don’t mix, but for underwater welders, it’s just another part of the job. Employees in this field repair pipelines, ships, dams, and more, and face a series of dangers, including explosions and differential pressure hazards. For example, when a diver is trapped under the high-pressure flow of water, they’re at risk of drowning. While the BLS doesn’t track fatalities in this field, research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows underwater welders die at a rate that is 40 times higher than America’s national average. It’s important to note that the study is more than 20 years old, and studies aren’t frequently updated due to the small population size in this field.

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Man working overboard. Abseiler complete with personal protective equipment (PPE) climbing and hanging at the edge of oil and gas rig platform in the middle of sea.
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Oilfield workers

The Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 that took the lives of 11 men reminded the world of the hazards facing oil rig workers, both offshore and onshore. Heights, heavy equipment, and dangerous materials are just a few risky elements of the job. Surprisingly, however, the greatest cause of death for oil and extraction labourers was vehicle crashes. Fatigue and long, unsafe travels to and from rigs are two of the reasons these accidents happen so often, according to the CDC.

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Roof repairs, worker with yellow gloves replacing red tiles or shingles on house with blue sk
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Roofers walk around the tops of homes and office buildings, so it’s not surprising that a 2017 investigation by the Globe and Mail found that roofers in Canada are five times more likely to die on the job than police officers.

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Golden retriever in the animal hospital. Veterinarians preparing the dog for surgery.
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Sure, animal bites, infections, and illnesses can harm veterinarians, but in Australia, it’s mental health that plagues workers in this industry. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, these employees are up to four times more likely to fall victim to suicide than the rest of the Australian population. Studies don’t pinpoint one specific reason for the high suicide rate, but factors including high stress, emotional hardships associated with euthanasia, and financial strain are a few common obstacles for these professionals.

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Just caught rudd lying on fishing net.
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Deep-sea fishermen

There’s a reason Deadliest Catch is such a popular show: the risk of someone dying on the job is extremely high, which naturally captivates anxious TV audiences. In a data project with Statistics Canada, fishing was found to be the deadliest job in Canada. Fishermen face the unexpected elements of nature on open waters, far away from any medical aid, gambling their lives with the hopes of a hefty catch and payday.The highest cause of death in this industry, as you probably guessed, is drowning. In a 2012 report released by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, falling overboard was found to be the second highest cause of death.

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steel beam for building
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Structural iron and steel workers

Heights, steel beams, collapsing walls, electrical lines, and swinging objects are just a few elements that make this gig so risky. Structural iron and steel workers rank as the sixth most dangerous job in the United States with a rate of 25.1 fatalities out of 100,000 workers, according to the BLS. Falls account for most of the deaths in this field, while injuries to iron and steel workers are often from cuts, muscle strains, broken bones, and burns.

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turbines of an aircraft
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Aircraft pilot and flight engineers

In 2015, crew fatalities accounted for 62 per cent of total aircraft fatalities, with the other 38 per cent being passengers, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. That year, there were 251 aviation accidents reported to the TSB, 227 of which involved a Canadian-registered aircraft.

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Bull in Bullring
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Bull riders

Bull riding is a popular and continuously growing sport in America and Australia, with the best professional bull riders raking in millions over the years. It’s also the rodeo sport with the highest rate of injury to humans. According to a six-year Australian study, bull-riding injuries are becoming more frequent, with the most common wounds occurring on the limbs, chest, and brain.

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Harvesting of soybean field with combine
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This job isn’t just milking cows or planting vegetables. Heavy machinery in addition to sun exposure, working with animals, and chemical hazards all pose a significant risk to farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers. According to the study by Statistics Canada and the Globe and Mail, farmers had the 10th highest traumatic injury fatality rate in Canada between 2011 and 2015. They saw an average of 23.9 deaths per 100,000 workers.

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Coal mining
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For workers in this industry around the world, the potential earnings no doubt outweigh the risks, however, the dangers are rife. Cave-ins, explosions, chemical leaks, fatigue, falls, electrocution, toxic fumes, and heavy loads are some of the hazards miners face on the job. China has the world’s largest mining industry and also one of the deadliest. A report found that the country accounts for 80 per cent of coal-mining deaths around the world each year, mostly a result of explosions.

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A police car rushes to the emergency call with lights turned on
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Police officers

TV shows and movies might have you believe that cops have one of the deadliest jobs in the world, but in fact, the men and women in blue don’t even crack the top ten most dangerous jobs in the country. However, there is one major difference and common risk that police officers face on the job that most other professions don’t: Murder. Fatalities in other industries are hardly ever from homicide, while a portion of police officer deaths every year are at the hands of others. According to the BLS, “Police officers incurred 51 homicides in 2016, up 50 per cent from 34 fatalities in 2015.”

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Classic bonneted American semi truck with chrome trim and a refrigerator trailer drive on the straight road in the California fields.
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Truck and sales drivers

Truck drivers had the highest number of fatalities on the job in 2016 than any other occupation in the United States, with a death rate of 24.7 per 100,000 workers. Some drivers carry heavy and dangerous loads over large distances and will sometimes drive when they are tired, making the possibility of a deadly crash more probable. The report also found that out of all work injuries across all industries, transportation incidents remained the most prominent cause of death.

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Rooftop Stunts
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Stuntmen and stuntwomen

This job is all about danger: Workers are essentially employed to perform crazy stunts that are too risky for actors to perform or to thrill a live audience. Dicey maneuvers like jumping from great heights, crashing vehicles, or using real weapons in fights are part of the gig and can lead to injuries or even death. While there are no official statistics, ScreenRant lists 15 times stunt men and women were injured or killed.

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The gardener mows the grass on the lawn mower in the park
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Grounds maintenance workers

While taking care of parks and the grounds outside of office areas sounds straightforward, according to the BLS, these workers had the 10th most dangerous job in 2016, with 217 total fatalities reported. Most workers died from transportation accidents, while others were the result of falls, being struck by loose objects, or electrocutions.

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File cabinet full of files in manila folders
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Private investigators

Private investigators often work on their own with no backup and catch people doing shameful or illegal acts. Kusic and Kusic Private Investigators Ltd outlined some of the dangers facing detectives, including extreme temperatures, the risk of getting into car accidents, demanding work schedules, and the possibility that a subject will violently lash out.

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helmet in construction site
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First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers

These employees oversee and coordinate construction and extraction activities for their staff, but even supervising has its risks. The construction industry, in general, saw a 6 per cent increase in fatalities from 2015 to 2016 and had the highest number of fatalities in all industries with 991 deaths, according to the latest BLS data. Unfortunately, first-line supervisors also saw an increase in fatal injury rates, going from 16.1 to 18.0.

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