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The surprising truth about Britain's most dangerous jobs

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For some, the working day is a real adventure. While office workers fight the dreaded "sitting disease", Britain’s more adventurous workers are battling much more pressing issues - some of them deadly. It may surprise you to learn that some of the most dangerous jobs in the UK have caused more deaths that the UK's military action in Afghanistan.

We delved deeper into the most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report to discover which professions make it to the list of Britain’s top ten most dangerous. The results are not what we expected.

10. Health worker

An estimated five million workers in the health and social care sector lost working days due to work-related injury or sickness between 2012 and 2013. This was one of the highest number of working days lost in any sector. Stress was the main contributor to illness amongst health workers.

9. Librarian

You wouldn't consider the humble Librarian to be much of a risk-taker, in fact many would rightly assume this to be a pretty safe and even rather jolly career path. However, the HSE report showed one person was killed in the ‘libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities’ sector last year; 46 major non-fatal injuries were also reported. We're guessing paper cuts.

8.  Teacher

Education was found to be the most injury-prone sector with 1,736 people reporting major injuries between 2012-2013. The majority of injuries were incurred during a fall or slip, with 190 people reportedly struck by an object.

7. Shopkeeper

Although not a deadly profession (with no fatal injuries reported last year) shopkeeping appears to be risky business. There were 1,619 major injuries reported in the retail sector between 2012 and 2013, with almost 7,000 injuries reported in total. Criminal attacks are one of the bigger risks of working in this industry.

6. Estate agent

It may appear to be a sedentary - albeit rather tricksy - career path, but four people died in the rental and leasing activities industry last year, with a further 70 suffering from major injuries.  The majority of injuries reported were caused by a trip, slip or fall while on the job.

5. Mechanic

Working with cars is dangerous, the HSE report has shown - not only mechanics but car salesman were found to be at risk in their jobs with eight deaths recorded in the car handling industry between 2012 and 2013 and nearly 300 major injuries.

4. Rubbish collector

Unpleasant and hazardous - twelve people died collecting, treating and disposing of waste between 2012 and 2013. The majority of injuries were due to slips or trips and being struck by vehicles.

The industry has a fatality rate of 7.8 per 100,000 employees.

3. Miner

The mining industry in the UK has shrunk considerably over the past couple of decades and there are only three remaining deep pit coal mines in the country. Mining has always been a perilous job and although there are now far fewer people working in the industry, the mines claimed two lives last year and more than 150 workers were injured.

2. Builder

The construction sector has a bad rep as being Britain’s most dangerous sector - with 39 fatal injuries on building sites in 2013 it has seen more deaths than any other industry; deaths in construction accounted for 27% of all job-related deaths last year.

A report by the Guardian shows more builders died on the job since 2001 than soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the same period - this has prompted a call for stricter safety measures to be put in place on construction sites around the UK.

However, as the above graph shows, it is in fact the agricultural sector that has a higher rate of death per capita.

1. Farmer

Agriculture, forestry and fishing is the riskiest industrial sector - accounting for around one in five fatal injuries to workers on the job. Of the 29 workers within this industry who were fatally injured between 2012-2013, almost 50% were farmers.

Five of these were killed by drowning or asphyxiation, while a further five were killed by animals.

Nonetheless, as Britain adopts stricter health and safety measures, particularly in the workplace, the number of worker deaths per year has dramatically decreased.

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Ross Bramble
Content Executive
Updated on
October 7, 2020

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