The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs (UK)

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The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs (UK)

While looking for work, most job seekers will take the time to check the salary on offer, their prospective working hours and even the company culture for opportunities they are interested in. However, for some industries, it is also important to take into account how dangerous the role could be.

In 2019, we took a look at the UK’s top ten most dangerous industries to work in. Time has passed since then, and all of these industries have had the opportunity to improve working conditions and increase safety. Now, we want to know whether those industries have made the necessary changes, or are still the most dangerous to work in.

Here, JMW Solicitors takes a look at the latest reports from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to compile an updated list of the top ten most dangerous industries in the UK in 2023.

10. Office work

Although offices are seen as comfortable and risk-free, there are actually several potential dangers to your health and safety.

The following are some of the most prevalent office risks:

Slips and trips

Hazards such as wet floors, exposed cords, unstable desks, uneven floors, carpets that are not secured, and crowded spaces can all give rise to slips and trips.

Occupational injuries

Office workers spend a significant amount of time each day seated at a desk using a computer, which can lead to repetitive motion injuries and ergonomic strains. Hazards of this nature can be difficult to spot.

Eye fatigue

Eye strain can result from spending a significant amount of your working day in front of a computer. Employees may start to experience blurry vision and dry, itchy eyes as symptoms of eye fatigue. To avoid eye strain, follow the NHS advice and employ the 20-20-20 rule.


Those who work in an office environment can be susceptible to stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Many offices now have a mental health first aider to assist with stress or other work-related conditions.

9. Lorry driving 

One of the most dangerous jobs is lorry driving. Weighing up to 44 tons, a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) has the potential to cause a considerable amount of damage if the driver loses control. Within the profession, being struck by a moving vehicle is a common cause of fatality.

Obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, inactivity, insomnia, and stress are additional risks associated with driving a lorry. These may result in a variety of illnesses including cardiovascular issues, sleep apnea, and diabetes, all of which can increase a driver’s risk of an accident.

Drivers falling asleep behind the wheel may be a result of health issues related to driving. In a private survey conducted by Unite in April 2018, it was discovered that 29% of HGV drivers in the union had admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. 

8. Motor vehicle repair

Workshops are packed with equipment, tools, and other items that, if misplaced, can cause accidents. In fact, the most frequent risk in motor vehicle repair is slips and trips, which could result in trips to the hospital and extended absences from work in the most serious cases.

While mechanics are working underneath cars, there is a risk of debris dropping off vehicles. Even worse, car jacks or lifts could malfunction, which could result in a fatality.

The majority of fatalities and serious injuries in motor vehicle repair businesses are caused by falls, although this does not only mean vehicles falling onto workers; it includes falls from ladders, elevated storage spaces, inspection pits, HGVs, and trailer units.

If the right safety precautions are not taken, lifting, transporting, and carrying heavy and/or bulky things can result in a number of injuries. Manual handling should be a last resort when no other option is possible, and employers should provide training to reduce the risk of injury when lifting and carrying.

Fuel and other combustible elements are abundant in auto repair shops and should be handled with care. Mishandling of fuel, grinding or welding close to fuel tanks or other flammable materials, or improper use of flammable substances like degreasers are common causes of fire and explosions.

7. Emergency services

Firefighters and paramedics are put in danger each time they respond to an emergency. Paramedics are constantly at risk of catching infections because of their frequent contact with blood and bodily fluids. Paramedics have also been exposed to COVID-19 over the past few years, and are at risk of contracting the disease when dealing with patients even with stricter safety precautions in place. 

Paramedics and firefighters may also be subjected to dangerous chemicals, materials, and sounds while working in a variety of indoor and outdoor situations, as well as psychological strain. Stress injuries that require them to take time off from work may be caused by the physical strain of moving and lifting patients. 

Firefighters are provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and go through rigorous training before they are qualified, however, they are still under a considerable amount of risk every time they are called to a fire emergency, putting their lives at risk to save others. 

6. Scaffolding and roofing

Falling or injuries caused by falling accounted for 29% of all workplace fatalities in 2021/22, making scaffolding one of the most dangerous industries in the UK.

Because of the nature of scaffolding and roofing, both must be secure before work is done. Rooftops are particularly hazardous since they can be slick and unstable. 

Working on rooftops requires working at a height, which is a dangerous activity that carries a high risk of serious injury. One-quarter of all fatalities in the construction business are related to working at a height. 

5. Waste management

A refuse operator is in charge of loading, hauling, lifting, and collecting domestic waste and recycling. In order to move rubbish to the waste lorry, employees might also need to learn how to operate a hoisting mechanism and operate a waste compactor. A thorough understanding of how to operate the apparatus is essential because industrial, commercial and residential waste disposal can all be challenging operations.

Waste disposal facilities must give operators appropriate training because waste management activities can be dangerous. The HSE is responsible for enforcing the legal training requirements. Regardless of their educational or professional backgrounds, businesses need to ensure that staff are properly trained before using any dangerous machinery.

Despite the number of fatalities recorded in the waste and recycling sector falling for the third consecutive year, this industry is still dangerous and it is vital that stakeholders continue their efforts to reduce this number over the coming years.

4. Care and nursing 

Everyone has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but none more so than the frontline healthcare workers. 

Long-term care professionals have been at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic since it first broke out, caring for those who are most vulnerable to the illness in incredibly high-risk environments. Healthcare workers put their lives at risk to deal with the outbreak of the virus.

3. Manufacturing

Each year, the manufacturing sector employs millions of people. While many of these employees operate in a secure atmosphere, some experience significant workplace accidents.

Due to the machinery and goods used in the manufacturing processes, there is always a degree of risk involved in manufacturing jobs that must be carefully managed by employers. However, some manufacturing processes are riskier than others.

To form metal, craftsmen utilise forging, stamping, bending, and other techniques. The metal must be heated to a very high temperature in order to do this, and employees frequently need strong machines to complete the task. The use of such heavy machinery can lead to severe injury.

When manufacturing wood, sharp cutting tools are used to shape the wood into the required form, and in food manufacturing, food products are sometimes chemically treated to produce the appropriate colour, exposure to such chemicals can lead to injury.

2. Farming

By their nature, agricultural jobs are physically taxing. Fatigue, poorly made tools, challenging terrain, exposure to extreme weather, and long working days are all factors that enhance the likelihood of accidents when people work and live in rural areas. Some of the main risks in the farming industry are: 

Heavy machinery

Large, heavy pieces of equipment like tractors, ploughs, and other machinery frequently need workers to undergo a lot of training to operate them efficiently. Tractors are involved in roughly 44 per cent of farming accidents, in part because they are at a much higher risk of tipping over than it may appear. There is currently no law for tractor drivers to wear seatbelts. 

Accidental suffocation and asphyxiation

Farmers face a serious threat from the grains that are used to manufacture our bread and pastries. The ventilation in silos and other grain storage facilities is poor, and breathing in the fine powder that is produced by cereals like wheat and soybeans can cause respiratory problems over time. Although not common, falling into a silo can be another risk. 

Chemical exposure

Harsh chemicals such as pesticides are used frequently in farming to ensure crops are not damaged by wildlife. Pesticide exposure can cause rashes, breathing problems, vomiting and long-term lung problems. 

Animal accidents 

While farm animals may seem calm and non-threatening, they can be dangerous. Horses and cows can be spooked easily and can kick out, injuring whoever may be close enough.

1. Construction 

Unsurprisingly, the most dangerous profession in the UK is construction. Heavy machinery, cranes, and high scaffolding are all necessary for construction operations and carry a number of associated risks. In 2020 alone, 39 construction workers suffered fatalities following accidents onsite. Construction has a four times greater absolute rate of workplace fatalities than the average for all other industries. However, this is partially a result of the large workforce in the sector.

Construction sites are among the most dangerous locations to work when it comes to hazards. It can be challenging to avoid personal harm when there is heavy equipment all around, construction materials are constantly being loaded and unloaded, and there are unusual risks and impediments at nearly every turn. Employers must have the correct training procedures in place and provide the appropriate PPE to ensure that workers are as safe as possible. 

FAQs About the Most Dangerous Jobs in the UK

Which occupation leads to the most workplace injuries?

In 2022, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that construction sites saw the most amount of injuries sustained, with an average of 59,000 occurring between 2018 and 2021. The HSE reported that, since the pandemic, these numbers have been declining, but that there are still plenty of workers reporting injuries - slips, trips or falls on the same level being the most common.

The report also shows that there were 30 fatal injuries that occurred between 2021 and 2022, which is also a downward trend when compared to the previous number of 36 for 2017-2018.

Are risky jobs well-paid?

Certain risky jobs are paid well, including heavy goods vehicle drivers who can earn between £40,000 and £70,000 per year. However, there are plenty of important dangerous jobs that do not pay well, including firefighters, who average a salary of £27,320, which is not much higher than the UK's average salary of £24,600.

When looking for a new job, you should avoid approaching dangerous jobs just because you believe they will pay better - you may be surprised to find out that this is not always the case. Instead, conduct thorough research on the areas that you want to work in and weigh up the costs and rewards.

What workplace safety responsibilities do employers have?

In line with the Health and Safety Executive's guidelines, employers are required to take every step they can to reduce risks in the workplace, ensure that workers are properly equipped to deal with hazards, provide ample training and take action to reduce any risks or hazards that are found or reported by the workplace's inhabitants - employee, customer or visitor. Failure to meet these obligations can lead to legal repercussions.

For more information on what measures employers must take and whether you have been treated with negligence, speak to our team today.

What can I do to keep myself safe in a high-risk job?

Working in a dangerous job can be challenging, but there are various steps you can take to ensure your safety:

  1. Make sure you receive the proper training - make sure you receive thorough training in your specific job, including safety procedures, operating equipment, and hazard recognition
  2. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) - always wear the required safety gear, such as helmets, gloves, safety glasses, earplugs, and steel-toed boots. Make sure your PPE is in good condition and fits properly
  3. Follow safety protocols and guidelines - familiarise yourself with your workplace's safety policies and follow them rigorously. This may include guidelines for lifting heavy objects, operating machinery, or handling hazardous materials
  4. Stay alert and focused - avoid distractions, such as using your phone, while performing tasks that require concentration. Fatigue and stress can also impair your ability to stay focused, so make sure you get enough rest and practice stress management techniques
  5. Use proper ergonomics - adjust your work environment to minimise physical strain, such as using adjustable chairs or workstations and practising correct posture
  6. Participate in safety meetings and drills - regularly attend safety meetings to stay up-to-date on new policies or potential hazards. Participate in drills and practice emergency procedures so you know what to do in case of an incident
  7. Report hazards and incidents - if you notice any unsafe conditions or equipment, report them to your supervisor immediately. Similarly, report any accidents or near-misses to help prevent future incidents
  8. Keep your workspace clean and organised - a cluttered work area can lead to accidents. Keep walkways clear, store tools and equipment properly, and promptly clean up spills or debris
  9. Stay informed about your industry - keep up with industry news, advances in safety technology, and regulatory changes to ensure you're knowledgeable about best practices and standards
  10. Look out for your co-workers - establish a culture of safety by looking out for your colleagues and encouraging them to follow safety protocols. If you see someone engaging in unsafe behaviour, speak up and remind them of the importance of safety

If your employer failed to facilitate any of the above points and you have sustained an injury as a result, speak to our team today.

What should I do if I have an accident at work?

If you experience an accident at work, it is essential to take immediate action to ensure your safety and that of your colleagues. Your first priority should be ensuring your own safety. Even if you do not believe you have suffered a serious injury, you should seek medical attention to determine whether there may be an underlying issue.

Once you have taken steps to secure your own safety, you should report the incident in your workplace's accident log book to notify your employer that there is a hazard that needs to be remedied, and to ensure the other people in the building are aware of the hazard.

If possible, you should record the details of the accident. Try to note down what happened and why. This will help to understand who is responsible.

If you believe that your employer is responsible for your accident, and you have suffered injury as a direct result of it, you should consider speaking to our team to make a personal injury claim. By doing so, we will be able to help you secure funds that will cover any medical, therapy or lost-wage expenses that you have incurred.

Get in Touch

If you have been injured in an accident at work that was not your fault, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Get in touch with us today by calling 0345 872 6666, or by filling in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

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