Do Dangerous Jobs Pay? (£££)

Do Dangerous Jobs Pay? Comparing Health and Safety Risks to Salary

When choosing a career path, salary, working hours or annual leave might be important factors to consider. But few think about the risk of getting injured at work, or the consequences. Seeing that work leave due to accidents leads to possibly large costs both on the side of the employer and the employee, health and safety risks might be worth looking into before applying for a position.

But which industries register the highest number of accidents, and how many are fatal?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released data on injuries at workplace in 2016/2017, showing which industries and groups were most likely to be involved in a work-related accident and what incidents were caused by.

Arinite health and safety consultants compared these stats with the average national salary, provided by Adzuna, of each industry, to find out if the probability of being in a fatal accident and the income show any correlation. These are the results:

As expected, skilled manual jobs document the most accidents. In 2016/2017, 137 workers were killed in workplace, of which 30 worked in Construction, 27 in Agriculture, 19 in Manufacturing, 14 in Transport and Storage, 14 in Waste and 33 in other fields. Numbers have been decreasing over the last decades and are just currently starting to level off. In 2016/2017 0.4 in 100,000 workers were fatally injured at work.

Research found, that 31 of the 137 deaths resulted from being struck by a moving vehicle, 25 from falling from a height, 20 from being struck by a moving object, 10 were trapped by something collapsing or overturning, 8 died after being in contact with moving machinery, 8 with electricity.

Being hit by a vehicle appears to be a particularly common death-cause in every industry, no matter if the job relies heavily on the use of vehicles or not.

Most fatal accidents in 2016/2017 happened in the Waste and Recycling industry, in which an average of 12.69 in 100,000 workers died related to an incident at work, whilst paying relatively poorly in comparison.

Recycling showed one of the lowest annual incomes at £26,270, which is well below the national average salary of £32,093.

Other accident-prone industries include Remediation (6.64) and Mining (3.28), which are also the two highest-paying industries in comparison. The lowest fatal accident rates were recorded in the Sale, Business, Creative and Service industries. Service, for example, scored a rate of 0.06, whilst paying an average of £32,530.

Finance pays comparatively high (£37,369) and appears to provide a rather safe work environment, with an accident rate of 0.12. Retail on the other hand, shows a similar rate of 0.2, but holds one of the lowest average salaries, with £25,639.

Looking at these numbers, it becomes obvious that the accident rate and the industry’s salary do not correlate. Relatively dangerous jobs sometimes pay very well (like Mining) and sometimes very badly (like Recycling). The same goes for “safe” jobs – the salary and the risk of being injured simply do not seem to relate. If you look at job positions within the industries, it is safe to presume, that lower paying jobs bear the higher safety risks, as they are typically more manual and therefore physically demanding.

A higher risk at getting injured at work does not necessarily lead to a higher salary. Arts, entertainment, recreation and all other service activities did not record a single death this year. Whilst inequality in wages are difficult to tackle, working conditions can efficiently be improved.

Employers need to make sure they comply with health and safety regulations to provide a productive and healthy work environment as well as protect themselves from high branching fees. Potential hazards can easily be identified and mitigated by simple workplace risk assessments and might eventually safe worker’s lives, making the industry more attractive and lucrative to labourers and entrepreneurs.


This post was written by Katharina Busch – a freelance writer, currently based in London. She regularly writes about topics such as energy, environment and travel, as well as health and safety.