6 Worst Jobs for Your Health
Most jobs come with some form of stress, but some are known to carry more physical and mental risks than others. While you probably rely on your job to pay your rent or mortgage and other bills, the stress and possible dangers could be doing you more harm than good. In fact, workers who drive a truck, care for patients, or wait tables at a restaurant could potentially be putting themselves in danger. Here, a look at six hazardous careers, and some of them might surprise you.
1.Truck Drivers. Transporting everything from automobiles and cattle to food and medical supplies, trucks play a critical role in maintaining our economy--but those who drive them for a living aren't necessarily living on easy street. Significant mortality and injury risks combined with a high reported rate of depression are just some of the factors that earned trucking a spot on our list. Largely due to hazardous highway conditions and sleep deprivation, truck drivers account for nearly 15 percent of all worker deaths (80 percent of those involved traffic accidents), according to 2005 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that truckers receive more injuries, such as sprains and back injuries, than workers in any other category.
2. Healthcare Workers. Nurses, physicians, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are just some of the many jobs classified as being in the healthcare industry. It is the second-fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing more than 12 million workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although these jobs can be extremely rewarding and are invaluable, they are also some of the most stressful and hazardous. Rates of occupational injury to healthcare workers have risen significantly over the past decade. Risks include, but are not limited to, contracting diseases (such as HIV) that are communicable through bodily fluids, injuries from needles or sharp medical instruments, and sleep deprivation from long shifts. Back injuries are also extremely common, as patients need to be positioned, assisted in and out of beds and chairs, and transferred from cart to bed multiple times each day. These factors combined could explain why six of the top 10 occupations at the highest risk for back injuries are in healthcare, according to the BLS.
3. Waiters/Waitresses. Websites that allow food service employees to rant about the trials and tribulations of restaurant jobs have become enormously popular in the past few years, indicating that the frustrations of many employed by the food service industry are both significant and common. For their typically low base salaries (in 2006, the BLS reported that median hourly earnings--including tips--were $7.14), waiters and waitresses risk developing backaches and repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, due to spending hours on their feet and carrying heavy trays loaded with supersized portions. On top it of it all, they frequently deal with rude and demanding costumers. With these job requirements, is it shocking that a study done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that drug abuse is common in the food service industry? More than 17 percent of employees surveyed admitted to using illicit drugs--the highest rate amongst all occupational groups researched.
4. Police Officers. They enforce laws, catch criminals, and protect citizens, but in doing so, those brave and selfless enough to enter the police force are risking their lives--not to mention dealing with extraordinarily high stress levels that are the inevitable result of their many job duties. According to the BLS, police officers need to be constantly alert and ready to deal with any number of threatening situations, including the obvious dangers of criminal confrontations. Many law enforcement officers witness death and suffering from accidents and criminal behavior, and the stress from seeing these events manifests itself in a variety of ways. Divorce, suicide, and post-traumatic stress rates are extremely high among those in the police force. Officers are also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, securing a career in law enforcement a place on our list.
5. Desk Junkies. They may not be chasing down criminals or saving lives in emergency rooms, but anyone working in an office setting who spends the majority of their day in front of a computer or telephone could be damaging their eyes and waistlines, and even developing potentially deadly blood clots or repetitive strain injuries, such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. A 2007 New Zealand study revealed that office workers glued to computer screens for long periods of time at work without breaks are at greater risk of deadly blood clots forming in their legs than long-distance air travelers. Eyes can become strained, dry, and blurry. And don't forget about the wrists. Repetitive motions, such as using a computer mouse or typing, can lead to pain, swelling, and limited movement. According to OSHA, repetitive strain injuries are the nation's most common occupational health problem, costing more than $20 billion a year in workers compensation. And who can forget the most hazardous part of an office job? Those homemade goodies that your co-workers bake will definitely wreck your diet.
6. Garbage Collectors. Disposing of trash is one of society's most needed activities, and garbage collectors have far from an easy career. Along with operating large trucks, working long hours (typically early morning or late night shifts), and being outside in all types of weather, they also face rigorous physical demands and high risks of falling. Garbage collecting can put tremendous strain on your body, with trash pickup crews in some cities reportedly running up to 20 miles a day behind moving garbage trucks.
In 2004, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that workers in waste management were in the top three job classifications to have the greatest risk of falling and number six in having the greatest number of fatalities in the service sector.
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