The UK’s most dangerous jobs and how much they pay

The most dangerous civilian jobs in the UK have been revealed in a new study. The ranking of 32 jobs includes paramedics and firefighters at the top and sewer flushers and painters at the bottom. The study was carried out by StandOut CV and is based on analysis and an index of mortality, injury and health risks of jobs in the UK and the US.

It found that paramedics have the most dangerous jobs in the UK, with the country’s 21,195 paramedics reporting an average of 2,993 attacks by patients each year Paramedics are the people responsible for rushing to all kinds of dangerous scenes to try and save lives every day. Seeing patients puts them at risk of various diseases, impairment to their immune systems and severe hormone secretion fluctuations due to the stressful nature of the job.

In addition to physical risks, paramedics scored highly for mental health risks. NHS data showed that paramedics taking time off for mental health conditions has rocketed 186% since 2011. Fortunately, the death rate of these key workers is very low, but they can expect to face a host of injuries, with an average of 2,993 attacks reported every year on ambulance staff by patients

When it comes to fatalities in the civilian sector, tanker and LGV drivers are most at risk. An average of 54 drivers die during their working activities each year, the study says. While civil engineers have the best pay to job danger ratio, earning an average of GBP50,000 each year and scoring a job danger score of 6.39

The analysis, by StandOut CV, analysed over 200 industry research papers and reports, ranking the most dangerous jobs in the UK and US by injury rates, fatalities, exposure to harmful chemicals, mental health risk, long-term injury risk and environmental conditions. The table below shows the top 32 dangerous jobs, the average annual salary, average weekly hours worked, and the job danger score (up to 35)

1 Paramedic GBP32,341 37.5 19.31
2 Firefighter GBP28,217 42 16.57
3 Oil Platform Worker GBP40,000 54 15.06
4 Deckhand GBP21,700 44 14.45
5 Nurse GBP28,593 39.5 13.81
6 Prison Officer GBP26,881 39 13.2
7 Roofer GBP26,000 35 13.09
8 Taxi driver GBP22,000 42 12.87
9 Farmer GBP35,500 40 12.29
10 Door staff GBP22,500 38 11.65
11 Police Officer GBP30,147 38.5 11.42
12 Bin Worker GBP21,000 39 11.23
13 Mental Health Carer GBP35,746 42 11.17
14 Industrial Cleaner GBP20,000 40 10.87
15 HGV Driver GBP27,500 45 10.85
16 Surgeon GBP64,570 42.5 10.7
17 Scaffolder GBP29,500 44 10.23
18 Electrician GBP30,000 35 9.31
19 Tree Surgeon GBP29,000 42 8.73
20 Demolition Worker GBP23,500 44 8.62
21 Quarry Worker GBP23,000 42.5 8.58
22 Crane Operator GBP28,500 41 7.87
23 Commercial Diver GBP27,643 43 7.47
24 Chemical Plant Process Operator GBP27,500 42 7.02
25 Mechanic GBP26,500 41.5 6.83
26 Civil Engineer GBP50,000 41 6.39
27 Forklift Driver GBP23,500 45 6.26
28 Large Animal Vet GBP40,000 42.5 6.1
29 Water Treatment Worker GBP24,500 43 5.96
30 Welder GBP27,000 45 5.74
31 Sewer Flusher GBP45,000 45 5.69
32 Painter GBP24,500 43 3.16

After paramedics, firefighters were found to have the second most dangerous job in the UK. Fortunately, firefighters have a very low death rate, with an average of two firefighters dying in England each year since 1986, and an average of 3.75 per year in Scotland.

Aside from the obvious risks of fire and collapsing buildings, they are at risk of hearing problems due to loud noises, studies also report the occupation has a higher risk of asthma, and one piece of research found that 60.2% of fire service staff had mental health problems, with ‘traumatic or distressing events’ being the second biggest contributing factor to this. Making up the top three most dangerous jobs in the UK, oil rig workers (referred to as Offshore drilling workers by the UK Government) scored 15.06 in our danger score index. According to the National Careers Service, these employees work an average of 54 hours a week, the highest average working week out of any job in this analysis, with a median average salary of GBP40,000.

Oil rig workers are naturally at risk of the dangers of the ocean being hundreds of miles off the coast, but they also had one of the highest injury rates (6.02%) in our analysis, with slips, trips, fractures and sprains being the most common problems. Some industry studies into oil rig workers have also found that hand trauma is extremely common. In terms of long-term illnesses, one 2021 UN study found that petrol/oil workers had an increased risk of skin, blood, prostate, urinary, and mesothelioma cancers, while various studies highlight the mental health risks of severe stress and isolation working on oil platforms.

In the US, the most dangerous job was a deckhand on a commercial fishing boat, followed by a sea diver, in second then scaffold contractor, quarrier, truck driver, logger, roofing contractor, farmer, paramedic and sewer flusher in tenth. In response to the findings, Andrew Fennell, former recruiter and current director at StandOut CV, said: “It’s not surprising to see key workers like paramedics and firefighters at the top of the list, especially over the last couple of years. These workers dedicate their lives to helping others in times of need, but it is sad to see statistics like the 3 in 5 firefighters suffering from mental health problems.”

“We hope this study encourages the public to appreciate the many people who put themselves in difficult situations to bring us vital services, and those who may go unsung like the sewer flushers and industrial cleaners of the world.”