Health and safety is an evergreen concern in workplace; government legislation has long enshrined the rights of workers to safety from workplace hazards, and the accountability that employers and business leaders have regarding the protection of workers from undue risk and harm.
But, while every workplace is required to apply health and safety logic to the administration of their work, there are some industries that are naturally more dangerous than others. For example, the relative impact of lifting and posture injuries in office environments pale in comparison to the real hazards facing workers in more hands-on environments. But which jobs are the most high-risk in the UK, and why?
According to National Accident Helpline, the single most dangerous outdoor role in the UK is that of the firefighter. Firefighters are directly exposed to fire hazards on a daily basis, running the risk of burn injuries and heat exhaustion.
Not only that, though, but they also experience significant risks posed by fire-wracked infrastructure, whether falling objects and debris or carcinogenic particles suspended in the air. There is also the noise risk to consider, with the excessive volume of noise produced by water pumps and fire engines contributing to hearing loss risk.
The construction industry is a wide-ranging one, with numerous roles that each have their own obligations and exposure to risk. However, many of the hazards experienced by hands-on workers in construction are shared – and construction is the leading industry for workplace fatalities in the UK.
The builders themselves are the most exposed to risk in construction, with contractors and roofers running the risk of falls from height as well as crush injuries from moving objects, and even tool-related mishaps. In general terms, and according to the same National Accident Helpline report, it is roofing workers that face the deadliest risk, uniquely exposed as they are to falls from height whether on high-rise projects or domestic builds.
Farming, fishing and agriculture is another leading industry for injury and fatality in the UK. While the construction industry remains responsible for the most workplace fatalities, agriculture holds the unenviable record for most fatalities per worker – with the per-worker fatality rate being 21 times higher than the national average.
The dangers facing agricultural workers are also many and varied. A majority of fatalities were caused by transport and machinery, with mobile farming equipment crushing workers; all-terrain vehicles were also earmarked as a specific cause of fatality in one-vehicle offroad incidents.
Larger livestock also pose a unique risk to farmworkers, where unpredictable behaviour can lead to workers being overpowered and crushed, or trampled. This is to say nothing of the various chemicals and tools that pose their own risks to workers, whether in the form of noxious fumes or accidental slash injuries.