Many jobs in indoor office environments, medical fields, and public service industries pose greater health risks than outdoor jobs that are considered dangerous.
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Workers’ Health at Risk
Some of America’s most unhealthy jobs occur in workplaces where daily tasks are considered safe and routine. The U.S. Department of Labor used data from the Occupational Information Network to measure the health risks in 974 occupations. To compare workplace safety, each occupation measured six factors that increase employee health risks.
- Exposure to hazardous conditions
- Exposure to radiation
- Exposure to contaminants
- Exposure to infection and disease
- Risk of cuts, bites, and stings, and minor burns
- Workplace time spent sitting
According to the Department of Labor study, jobs were analyzed and rated on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating increased on-the-job health risks. Jobs with high unhealthy job ratings include:
Dental Hygienists – Unhealthy Job Rating = 72.8
Dental hygienists regularly clean patients’ teeth, inspect oral areas for mouth and gum diseases, apply fluoride treatments and sealants, and develop x-rays. These duties pose high health risk ratings: Exposure to infection and disease = 100; Exposure to radiation = 91; Time spent sitting = 85.
General Dentists – Unhealthy Job Rating = 69.5
General dentists examine, diagnose, and treat oral injuries, malformations, and diseases of the teeth and gums. They also perform invasive procedures of the mouth and gums that expose them to increased health risks factors: Exposure to infection and disease = 95; Exposure to radiation = 85; Time spent sitting = 82.
Veterinary Assistants – Unhealthy Job Rating = 66.5
Veterinary assistants and animal caretakers feed, water, and examine all types of animals for injuries, illnesses, and diseases. Their duties put them at high risks: Exposure to infection and disease = 87; Exposure to contaminants = 82; Risks for bites, stings, and cuts = 77.
Flight Attendants – Unhealthy Job Rating = 62.3
Flight attendants provide services to airline passengers to ensure their safety, security, and comfort during a flight. Due to enclosed spaces and close contact with passengers, their health risk factors are high: Exposure to contaminants = 88; Exposure to infection and disease = 77; Exposure to minor burns, cuts, and bites = 69.
Although construction workers, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers are known to be in high-risk occupations, there are many other jobs that create unhealthy workplaces, resulting in increased illnesses, injuries, and high workers compensation claims.