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Construction, Sanitation and Other Dangerous Jobs

A review of the list of America's most dangerous jobs, as measured by fatalities, is daunting yet informative. Commercial fishermen, loggers and airplane pilots are prominent on the list of workplace deaths. No surprises there; the challenges of those very specific industries are well known.

Less well known, perhaps, is how dangerous the jobs of sanitation workers are. Most people, when putting out their trash, don't realize just how often the workers who pick it up and process it get hurt or even killed.

One reason for the danger is that sanitation employees must constantly get in and out of their trucks, often in crowded urban areas. This part of the job puts workers at risk of motor vehicle accidents.

The contents of the waste they pick up also often puts sanitation workers at risk of injury or death. People don't always pay proper attention to what they are throwing away or putting in recycling containers. As a result, volatile, toxic, flammable or otherwise hazardous materials frequently enter the waste stream - exposing sanitation workers to danger.

Overall, 34 of these workers were killed on the job last year, according to the Labor Department. That is a fatality rate per 100,000 workers of 41.2, for a job that pays a median wage of $34,420 per year.

The fatality rate for roofers is somewhat lower than for sanitation workers, at 31.8 per 100,000. But given how many people work as roofers, the number of people who died doing that job last year was 56.

Roofers are often exposed to coal tar pitch and other potentially hazardous building materials. They also are at risk of falls, hoisting accidents and electrocution.

Any job can be dangerous, particularly with the threat of workplace violence in America. Some jobs, however, are much more dangerous than others.

Source: "America's most dangerous jobs," CNN Money, 9-20-12

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