For many people who work in white-collar jobs, the risk of suffering an injury at work seems negligible at best. While sitting at a desk all day does come with its fair share of downsides, experiencing a life-altering injury is pretty low on the totem pole.
However, there are still some fields where working in high-risk environments is common and where people face real dangers as they earn their livelihood. Below are the top four industries where workplace safety is a top concern.
The construction industry is famous for its perilous working conditions. Employees often manipulate hazardous materials and sometimes work at high altitudes, thereby exponentially increasing the risk of serious injury. In the United States alone, more than half of all work-related traumatic injuries are the result of falls, with older workers in particular being much more likely to sustain an injury.
Of course, the construction industry has taken steps to address this, with hard hats and other protective equipment now obligatory. However, there are still many cases when human negligence can lead to some otherwise avoidable accidents.
The mining industry has come a long way since the days of the Industrial Revolution, when miners often worked in appalling conditions with few safety measures to protect them. Still, even today mining poses certain risks and can be a particularly harsh occupation.
That's because, aside from disastrous situations like cave-ins or floods, mining also exposes workers to dust, mercury or radon, which can have detrimental health effects and lead to all sorts of illnesses. Sadly, some companies gloss over the long-term side effects of mining or fail to provide employees with the required respirators, ventilation systems and ear protectors.
When compared to the two aforementioned industries, healthcare professionals seem to have it easy — well, as easy as it can be when working long hours in a stressful environment. Studies also show that prolonged exposure to sick patients can take its toll on these professionals to the tune of 30 cases per 100,000 workers annually. Most of these are manageable, but sometimes serious infections can occur as well.
While reputable hospitals take great care in maintaining a clean and sterile environment, things like needle-stick injuries can still happen at an alarming rate. To that end, employers could stand to gain a lot by providing their employees with regular medical screenings in order to prevent and detect potential health issues.
Finally, the manufacturing industry handles everything from food to textile and furniture production. With so many diverging paths, the risks associated with this industry are also quite diverse. Employees in the manufacturing sector often must operate heavy-duty machinery, handle hazardous materials and safeguard against various malfunctions along the way.
As the industry continues its current trend toward automation, the likelihood of accidents should gradually decrease. However, as long as people are employed in the manufacturing sector, the need for adequate protection will remain.
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Mila Payton writes for Central College, an institution that provides education to future health and safety operations professionals, enabling them to acquire necessary skills and qualifications in a supportive environment.