When you think of the most dangerous jobs, your mind will probably drift to a firefighter, lion tamer, stunt man or even zookeeper! Surprisingly, however, yes for all dangerous in nature, these positions aren’t actually the most dangerous jobs you could have.
The jobs in our list below are probably roles you wouldn’t expect to see on the list as the majority of these roles are actually considered low-risk sectors.
Below, we’ve explored these roles in more detail as well as the workplace improvements and what appropriate workwear should be used to reduce these fatality numbers.
10 most dangerous jobs in the UK
Number of recorded fatalities 196
Average Salary £18,080
Working in construction can take the form of many different roles. Think of construction workers working on site, jobs can range from labouring (which can involve loading and unloading materials), working at height, being exposed to hazardous materials during demolition (think of asbestos removal, etc.), and more. Plus, as a construction worker, you will be required to work out in all weathers, rain, sun or snow.
Construction work turns dangerous when we start thinking about working at height, heavy objects moved around the site and again from different heights. Machinery is used for different situations and other tradesman being on site to carry out their roles. Very soon, working in construction can pose a lot of dangers.
It’s unfortunate to report that most fatalities and serious injuries reported in the construction industry are due to falling from a height and being hit by falling objects.
Workplace Improvements: Look to carry out regular risk assessments across entire sites as well as individual projects and jobs. Make sure all staff have adequate training. Assign a Health and Safety Officer, if not team (depending on the size of the company), and make sure you have the right signs in place warning people of the dangers.
Suitable PPE: PPE will vary depending on job and circumstance. However, most commonly found within the construction and to help reduce risk PPE can include, hard hats, high visibility jackets, steel-toe work boots, eye protection, and ear defenders if operating machinery.
FARMING AND FORESTRY
Number of recorded fatalities 152
Average Salary £22,157
Farming involves wearing a lot of different hats and working a considerable number of hours throughout the year. From sheep rearing to milking cows and managing other livestock, a working farm will be responsible for the planting, fertilisation, and harvesting of crops as well as the transporting too.
As for foresters their role is primarily involved in managing forests and protected areas. Taking care of ecological restoration, timber harvesting and more – this role is not for the faint-hearted when it comes to heights and wildlife.
Both of these roles have become classified within our list of most dangerous due to some of the heavy machinery required, as well as the fact that these roles can involve working at unstable heights. For farmers, things like working with dangerous animals and livestock also pose a serious risk.
Workplace Improvements: For certain aspects of the job it is advised to work in teams or pairs. Things like working at unstable heights and shearing cattle for example. Training is also required in the specific role of the job but also in the use of the equipment too, for example, being trained to use the combined harvester safely, being able to use and adjust harnesses for climbing appropriately, etc.
Suitable PPE: Requirements in these fields include, safety boots, correct harnesses, cut resistant gloves, hearing protection, and respirator masks.
Number of recorded fatalities 111
Average Annual Salary £27,457
Manufacturing can include a wide range of roles such as the manufacturing of food, metal, rubber, plastic, etc. Often manufacturing plants are large factories with many “stations” dedicated to carrying out a specific task.
Working in manufacturing is seen as dangerous due to the machinery used, and often large machinery at that. As well as the different tools and equipment required to carry out a job and, in some cases, the hazardous materials used to make the final product.
Workplace Improvements: Within manufacturing, things must evolve on a regular basis as things change depending on what is being produced as well as the introduction of new technology. So, making sure that you also update best practices is important. It’s also essential to embed safety within the culture. Having dedicated safety managers providing valid and appropriate communication and awareness information is great support.
Suitable PPE: Hard hats, hi-vis workwear (where appropriate), protective gloves, face shields, and goggles (if carrying out welding tasks, etc.).
ROOFING AND SCAFFOLDING
Number of recorded fatalities 76
Average Annual Salary £39,990
Roofers are ultimately responsible for fixing, repairing, and laying new roofs! Anything to do with roofs is carried out by a qualified and fully trained roofer. The role of a scaffolder is to build and take down scaffolding or temporary structures for buildings etc., to allow people to be able to work safely at height.
So, you’ve probably guessed by now just how these jobs can be considered as dangerous…working at height and facing a falling hazard. Slipping on roofs is potentially fatal and erecting uneven scaffolding until you have the structure firmly in place is just as dangerous.
Workplace Improvements: Prepare the site area, work to agreed plans and drawings, inspect scaffolding equipment for defects regularly ensuring good maintenance of equipment at all times. Work to method statements and carry out thorough risk assessments. Ensure full training for staff as well as providing adequate information about the job in question.
Suitable PPE: Hard hats, eye protection, hand protection, safety harnesses, and protective boots!
VEHICLE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
Number of recorded fatalities 48
Average Annual Salary £28,369
From mechanics working in a body shop to road assistance professionals helping us in an emergency breakdown. Mechanics and those working in car garages, deal with everything there is to do with vehicles to help keep them on the road for longer.
We’ve all probably seen or been in a mechanics garage at some point, and you can spot some of the dangers immediately. Dangers such as working under vehicles in for repair! Of course, we understand why mechanics work in this way, but cars falling due to not being held up properly are all potential dangers in the workplace. When mechanics are called out to emergency breakdowns, quite often these will be on motorways or in high traffic flowing areas posing problems and risks to all involved. There’s also the added health risk when it comes to exhaust fumes and oil usage etc.
Workplace Improvement: Make sure you always have appropriate signs in vehicles for any breakdown recovery service you offer, and full training should be provided on how to use garage equipment.
Suitable PPE: Gloves (usually latex) should be used to avoid oil and grease getting onto your skin and safety goggles/glasses when working under vehicles. Puncture resistant shoes are also increasing in popularity in this sector too.
Number of recorded fatalities 38
Average Annual Salary £23, 376
A lorry driver is someone who is equipped and trained to drive large vehicles, potentially long distances delivering goods and services to customers. These good can range from food and drinks to furniture and stationery.
At first glance you might not see any potential dangers in working as a lorry driver; however, some of these vehicles weigh in excess of 44 tons – so have the potential to cause a lot of damage if the driver were to lose control. However, most accidents involving lorry drivers are caused by other drivers.
Workplace Improvement: Unfortunately, you can’t remove other drivers from the road, but you can make sure your own vehicles are well serviced and maintained regularly. Installing things such as dash cams and by law making sure that all phones are out of sight and hands-free kits are connected help too.
Suitable PPE: Hi-vis clothing, appropriate road signs, work gloves (for loading and unloading goods from the lorry).
Number of recorded fatalities 33
Average Annual Salary £17.591
Working in waste management can include roles working in waste disposal or recycling plants and overseeing the transportation of waste or refuse collection from residential homes and commercial premises.
Waste Management isn’t just a dirty job; it’s also a dangerous one! There is large machinery involved in waste management, as well as moving waste from one location to the next.
Workplace Improvement: Training in all aspects of waste management should be carried out as well as in-house training too on any different equipment that you as a company use. Carrying out regular inspections as well as making sure all staff have regular manual handling training all support improvement in safety.
Suitable PPE: High-visibility clothing is a must! Cut resistant gloves as well as masks (to stop inhaling possible toxic fumes) as well as ear defenders due to the noise some waste management equipment creates.
PAINTING AND DECORATING
Number of recorded fatalities 29
Average Annual Salary £26,043
As a painter and decorator, you're ultimately responsible for preparing a range of surfaces and applying the finishing touches to it. Working with paints, wallpapers, and other materials all associated with creating a quality end product.
Painting and decorating comes with its own risks when you think of toxic paint fumes, paint splashing into eyes, etc. However, the most common injury in this profession...slips, trips, and falls.
Workplace Improvement: Carrying out appropriate risk assessments for each job and making sure all tools and equipment are stored in appropriate carriers to help avoid those tripping hazards, and the job itself is being correctly assessed and prepared before work begins.
Suitable PPE: Eye protection is a must! Suitable footwear (usually in the form of disposable shoe covers), as well as face masks to avoid too much fume inhalation and disposable coveralls, are all personal protection equipment recommended for painters and decorators.
Number of recorded fatalities 14
Average Annual Salary £39,186
Civil engineering covers a broad scope of job roles, things such as those in construction and offshore oil platform workers for example.
For all being one of the highest paid sectors, to match this, there is also a higher probability of risk. For example, things such as collapsed excavations, being hit by vehicles, coming into contact with electricity and even being subject to hyperthermia – are all known recorded dangers of working within a civil engineering role.
Workplace Improvements: Make sure you’re using the safest and most well-maintained equipment there is to offer. When working at depth, over water, or even with explosives, make sure you: identify the hazards – look to eliminate these before you begin – minimise the risk throughout the project. Carry out site surveys, operating and working to your Health and Safety plans, as well as having well laid out work procedures and best practices; all increase safety for staff and company.
Suitable PPE: Hi-vis workwear, adequate and appropriate lighting, hard hats, proper gloves, safety boots.
Number of recorded fatalities 5
Average Annual Salary £30,043 - £34,228
Working as an electrician comes in many shapes and sizes. From working in residential homes to working in large commercial premises and offices and even construction sites before projects are complete! From installing and maintaining wiring, controls and lighting systems, electricians can also be responsible for inspecting all electrical components such as transformers and circuit breakers.
Now that we’ve said an electrician, you probably think that the primary cause of injury in this job is via electrocution…however, you’d be mistaken. As like most of the job roles we’ve covered so far it is again falling from heights. Yes, electrocution is still a significant danger and does cause injury but working at height above or below ground is the main culprit!
Workplace Improvement: Make sure all power sources are switched off completely at the source. Make sure you have identified all known areas of power in the workplace and make a note of these for when you need to turn them back on. Also, where possible work in teams or pairs, supporting ladders, etc. Assessing the level of risk within each job and putting appropriate Health and Safety measures in place to compensate.
Suitable PPE: Switch protection kits, electrical protective clothing, insulated rescue tools, hand, and face protection work wear.
Of course, there are many other jobs just as deadly in the UK and throughout the world, but what we want to highlight is those jobs where we believe there to be minimal risk and instead need much more consideration when it comes to Health and Safety.
Stay safe at work, always.
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