Britain’s Most Dangerous Jobs

For many of us turning up to work each day in our safe, open plan offices, where the most dangerous item we face is a faulty stapler, the idea of spending our days doing something slightly riskier is appealing.  Think about it; when you were a child, and someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, chances are the jobs you thought of involved some element of peril; lion tamer, racing car driver, astronaut or firefighter.

Although riskier occupations may come with excitement, if health and safety guidelines are not followed, an accident in some of these professions can result in devastating injuries or even death.

Statistically, when looking at instances of serious accident or fatalities, three of the most dangerous industries are agriculture, construction and manufacturing.  This article examines each of these sectors separately and discusses the accident statistics associated with them.

Farming/Agriculture

Since humans first moved away from a hunter-gatherer culture and started cultivating the land around 12,000 years ago, farming has provided an abundance of ways to seriously injure or maim.  An excavation of graves of those living in the Kerma Period (2,500 – 2,050 BC) in ancient Sudan revealed the remains of the fracture-related trauma sustained by a 57-year-old farmer who was repeatedly knocked down by a 2,000-pound (about 909 kg) bull: 13 rib fractures, three forearm fractures, bilateral scapular fractures and dental fractures[1].

Unfortunately, farming can still result in serious injuries.  A total of 11 employees died in the farming sector in 2015/16, and a further 20 self-employed people lost their lives.

Fatalities were caused by:

  • crush injuries
  • being struck by a moving vehicle
  • falls
  • electrocution

Strenuous efforts have been made to improve farm safety, including the creation of a Farm Safety Week by the Farm Safety Foundation, who also provide regular training to the sector. However, despite the 14,000 agricultural workers were injured in farming accidents in 2016, and many of those were the result of negligent practices and procedures.

It is not just farmers who are at risk of injury.  In January 2018, Matthew Drummond, 29, a self-employed tipper wagon driver, had been in the process of unloading sand at a farm when he was fatally electrocuted.

The farmer, David Heywood, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay partial costs of £3,000 for failing to identify and manage risks surrounding overhead power lines on his land and put a safe system of work in place.

Construction and scaffolding

In February 2018, a scaffolder who had been photographed working on a platform 18 metres in the air wearing a harness that was not attached to anything.  The worker was given a 26-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, plus 100 hours community service for health and safety breaches

Health and Safety magazine reported that HSE inspector Seve Gomez-Aspron said after the hearing: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and should be taken seriously.

“This case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to erect scaffolding in a safe manner, which does not cause risk to members of the public and workers using the scaffold. It also serves to remind employees that they have a duty to look after themselves”.

Construction and scaffolding have always had a seat at the top of the ‘most dangerous jobs’ tables, and many personal injury claims are brought by construction workers and their families.

In 2015/16, 28 workers died in the construction sector, with 65,000 suffering injury (this includes self-employed workers).  In a quarter of these cases, the victim was required to take more than a week off work, resulting in loss of income.

Manufacturing

Nineteen people lost their lives in the manufacturing sector in 2015/16 due to:

  • being struck by a moving vehicle
  • falls from height
  • explosions
  • burns or coming into contact with harmful chemicals
  • coming into contact with dangerous machinery

In addition, around 70,000 workers suffered from injury.

Manufacturing accidents have been responsible for some of the most gruesome and bizarre workplace accidents.  For example, in 1979, a Ford Motor assembly line worker, Robert Williams, became the first person to be killed by a robot.  Williams died instantly in 1979 when the robot’s arm slammed into him as he was gathering parts in a storage facility.  Mr Williams’ family was later awarded $10 million in damages.  The jury recognised the robot struck him in the head because of a lack of safety measures, including one that would sound an alarm if the robot was near.

Even though (thankfully) most manufacturing accidents are not so dramatic, victims of injuries can experience life-changing disabilities, loss of income and prospects, as well as a long rehabilitation process.

When making a claim for personal injury, the compensation received will (subject to evidence and if the claim is successful), include payment for loss of earnings, and past and anticipated future care.  In some circumstances, your solicitor may be able to obtain an interim payment to help you cover the bills whilst you recover and rehabilitation to address any physical and/or psychological treatment needs.

Bennett Griffin are award-winning solicitors based in West Sussex with offices in central Worthing and Ferring.  Our experienced and specialist solicitors offer a comprehensive service and will work with you in an honest, considered and practical manner.  If you require legal advice, please contact us on 01903 229 999 or by email at info@bennett-griffin.co.uk for more information.

The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.

[1] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8a14/8563271753f235ea72cade911dcb789e0d6b.pdf