Forget “Dirty Jobs.” How about deadly jobs? The government recently released a list of the top 10 deadliest professions in 2012, and — guess what? — seven of them are in field service:
- Logging workers — No. 1 on the list, with about 128 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Roofers — No. 4
- Structural iron and steel workers — No. 5
- Refuse and recyclable material collectors — No. 6
- Electrical power-line installers and repairers — No. 7
- Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers — No. 8
- Construction laborers — No. 10, with about 17 deaths per 100,000 workers
The statistics are startling at first glance, but perhaps not all that surprising. Next to sales reps, few workers spend more time on the road than field service techs, which means they’re subjected more than most to hazardous conditions on the road. Unlike sales folks, however, service techs then have some fairly treacherous conditions to encounter when at a client site (see: wind turbines, industrial refrigerators, meat processors).
Indeed, according to preliminary data culled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation-related incidents accounted for two out of every five fatal work injuries in 2012 (of a total of about 4,400 fatalities). Of the nearly 1,800, transportation accidents, 58 percent involved motorized vehicles on roadways (as opposed to tractors overturning on a farm or pedestrians crossing the road).
The second-highest cause of death among U.S. workers last year was “violence and other injuries by persons or animals,” according to government data. The third-highest number of deaths — about 16 percent of total — resulted from “contact with objects and equipment.”
For an industry like field service that’s so reliant on contract workers, here’s another disturbing finding: 16 percent of all work-related fatalities last year involved contractors — most of them in the construction or transportation industry. The 708 deaths reported in 2012 mark a 31 percent jump from 2011.
Construction-related deaths generally are also on the rise. Deaths among construction workers rose five percent last year after five years of decline. The high point came in 2006, at the height of the real estate boom when there were many more construction-related jobs.
The three non-field service jobs that round out the top 10:
- “Fishers and related fishing workers” — No 2, with 117 deaths per 100,000 employees
- “aircraft pilots and flight engineers,” — No. 3, with about 53 deaths per 100,000
- “farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers,” — No. 9, with about 21 deaths per 100,000