Killer Jobs in the USA
Many of our most iconic images from the turn of the century are of skilled laborers performing dangerous jobs to build our country’s infrastructure. Iron workers straddling I-beams thousands of feet above New York City while they eat lunch, railroad workers casually shielding themselves from dynamite explosions and rock slides in the mountains, industrial laborers leaning over furiously churning machinery; these pictures are famous reminders that the world we live in was built on the backs of men and women performing life-threatening jobs every day.
While we tend to equate deadly professions with the industrial revolution and its pre-standards safety hazards, the fact of the matter is that potentially deadly jobs still make up a significant portion of the workforce in our country. Every day, men and women wake up and clock in at jobs which could potentially end their lives in order to keep the machinery of our economy working.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,281 deaths due to work-related injuries occurred in 2014, an increase of five percent from the previous year.1 Personal injury lawyers like those who specialize in maritime law cases and workers’ compensation justice for construction workers are well-versed in the dangers associated with workplace hazards and wrongful death cases in the United States. If you or a loved one have been injured in a workplace accident, or a family member has suffered wrongful death due to employer negligence, it is in your best interest to seek legal help sooner than later to make sure you’re duly compensated.
Here we’ll provide an overview of some of the worst offenders when it comes to wrongful death in the workplace. While these jobs represent a significant portion of workplace fatalities, it’s important to realize that any job can be fatal if safety training and regulations are not carefully observed.
Last year a thirty-seven-year-old man was crushed to death at work. Though it was his first day on the current job, he had five years’ experience in the industry and by all accounts knew his way around the equipment. He did everything right, following the instructions laid out by his employer, but that wasn’t enough to keep him safe; an avoidable equipment failure led to his untimely death.
The man was a logger. His job was to attach chokers, wire ropes used to hook and hold logs above the ground. Due to a malfunction, a twelve-hundred-pound log carriage dipped lower than it should have on its aerial support line and ended his life.
Depending on the year, logging remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. 2014 saw seventy-eight deaths on logging sites, up from fifty-nine the previous year. It makes sense; loggers spend most of their working time outside, often at high altitudes and in bad weather, operating heavy machinery and moving heavy loads. Safety standards exist to help mitigate the dangers associated with logging work, but statistics show that logging is still one of the country’s most dangerous professions.
The days of burly, plaid-shirted lumberjacks felling massive trees with only axes and two-man saws at their disposal may have been brought to an end by technology, but that obviously isn’t enough to guarantee the safety of even the most experienced workers.
Fishing and Maritime Industries
Between 2007 and 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked commercial fishing as the most dangerous job in the US. TV shows like Deadliest Catch, Wicked Tuna, and Saltwater Heroes have done a lot to expose the public to the dangers faced by commercial fishermen while at work, but also tend to romanticize this dangerous and largely thankless job sector.
Nasty weather, heavy machinery, outdated safety equipment, and cramped living conditions all contribute to the potential risks faced by those who work at sea. There are no hospitals in the middle of the ocean, and crewmembers must often make split-second decisions in cases of emergency. If a crewmember lacks training or makes the wrong call in the moment, lives can be at stake.
While safety inspections are commonplace and infractions are easy to sight and enforce on other types of dangerous jobsites, seafaring vessels which perform their work out on the water pose a much more difficult conundrum for enforcement at the federal level.
In addition, maritime law is fantastically complex, representing a tangled maze of red tape which is totally different from the workers’ compensation laws for land-based job hazards. The Jones Act protects spouses and dependents of seamen who suffer wrongful death at the fault of negligent employers, but without a seasoned maritime accident lawyer it can be almost impossible to claim any such benefits.
Many Americans are justifiably afraid of flying. Statistics show that airline pilots and flight engineers certainly have it rough, with seventy-one workplace fatalities recorded in 2012. When a plane crash or runway accident occurs, fatalities of the crewmembers involved are unfortunately all but guaranteed.
That said, the inherent dangers of transportation-oriented jobs extend well beyond those which involve air travel. America’s roads are a deadly place to go to work every day; almost sixty percent of the fatal transportation-related incidents last year took place on highways.
With laypeople and professional drivers of large commercial vehicles sharing crowded pavement, the capacity for human error is monumental; roadway incident fatalities rose nine percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the BLS. In 2014, a total of 1,289 deaths among commercial vehicle drivers occurred, with 725 of those represented by heavy vehicle and tractor trailer drivers.2
Automobile accident lawyers know that with so many factors in play, proper representation is absolutely crucial in cases of wrongful death or injury on the road. Truck and commercial vehicle accidents happen in a split second, and it’s important to have a seasoned professional on your side when heading to court.
Most of us get behind the wheel of a car every single day without thinking about the inherent risks of hitting the road. Whether you drive as part of your job or just to get to your place of employment, observing the law and driving safely is absolutely paramount to your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those with whom you share the road.
A good 18-wheeler accident attorney can help guarantee that the families of those injured or killed behind the wheel are protected from wage loss and potentially crippling medical expenses.
Roofing and Construction Labor
In 2014, a seasoned construction employee with more than ten years’ experience lost his footing on a four-hundred-foot telecommunications tower. His safety harness failed, and the man fell ninety feet to his death. It was a clear day, warm, with no inclement weather in play. Sometimes, even the ‘fail-safe’ measures designed to protect workers performing dangerous tasks can fail.
Falls are one of the ‘Fatal Four’ listed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as the leading causes of death and injury in the construction industry.3 Almost forty percent of construction-related deaths in 2015 were due to falls from roofs, scaffolding, telecommunications towers, and other off-ground work spaces.
While most construction workers are protected against minor personal injury losses by workers’ compensation insurance, many find it necessary to seek professional legal assistance. Just as transportation workers ought to seek an attorney for car accident claims, so too should construction laborers and their families acquire legal counsel when injury or wrongful death in the workplace occurs.