26 February 2007

Dying for a job

Ever wondered what are the most dangerous jobs in the world? Sometimes you can meet an untimely end while you are just trying to earn your living.


Ever wondered what are the most dangerous jobs in the world? Sometimes you can meet an untimely end while you are just trying to earn your living. This is to be expected if you are a knife-thrower's assistant or a liontamer, but these jobs are few and far between.

Some of the most dangerous jobs out there are:

Deep-sea divers. These divers have a low life-expectancy. They tend to make a lot of money quickly and get out while they can. Death can occur from equipment failure, hypothermia, drowning, decompression sickness, rupture of the lungs and many other things.

Trawlermen. Fatal accident rates for trawlermen are double the accident rate for miners. Sometimes whole crews are lost at sea and trawlermen often suffer from disorienting hypothermia while at sea, especially in far northern waters.

Miners. Not only are miners frequently involved in fatal mine disasters, but they also suffer lung complications from breathing in metallic and mineral dust while underground. Underground hazards include flooding, heat, gases and back problems.

Construction workers. Most construction workers can expect to sustain at least three serious injuries at work during their lifetime. One in every fifty of these workers will die in a site accident. Falling from heights is a leading killer, but electrocution, explosions, the inhalation of toxic gases and chemical hazards top the list of work-related hazards.

Agricultural workers. These workers often deal with heavy machinery and poisons, often leading to fatal accidents. Poisoning from herbicides and insecticides is also found frequently. Tetanus, brucellosis, skin cancer and undulant fever are also common amongst agricultural workers and farmers.

Welders. These workers are exposed to an enormous variety of occupational hazards. Gas poisoning is high on the list, followed by fumes from metal-coated rods, which can cause emphysema and beryllium, which is an acute lung inflammation. Many welders also suffer burns and cataracts and electrical accidents. Explosions and asbestos exposure are also common.

Chemical workers. The history of the chemical industry is littered with casualties, as the dangers posed by new chemicals are often not realised until one or more workers fall ill. Carbon disulfide has been known to cause depression and parkinsonism; acrylamide exposure has led to nervous disturbances; benzene to leukaemia and chromosome abnormalities and vinyl-chloride to liver cancer.

So, if you want to be sure that your chosen profession will not also determine the way you die, it may be an idea to become a computer programmer or a secretary.

(Source: People's Almanac #2: editors David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace)


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