The subject of workplace safety often conjures images of people chasing down criminals, crossing enemy lines or treating dangerous viruses. But the jobs that rank among the worst for your physical health might surprise you.
“Clearly, there are some jobs that are inherently dangerous, like police work, but the ones that incur the most workplace injuries aren’t typically talked about,” says Angela Payne, general manager at Monster Canada.
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According to the job search giant, there are nearly five fatalities per workday in the country, amounting to roughly 1,000 deaths per year, and 15.5 cases of work-related injuries per 1,000 employees in Canada. In the following industries, however, the numbers are even more alarming.
Fishing and trapping has the highest incidence of workplace fatalities, counting 52 deaths per 100,000 workers, while mining, quarrying and oil wells are a close second with 46.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Logging and forestry, construction, and transportation and storage account for 33.3, 20.2 and 16 fatalities per 100,000 workers, respectively.
“These industries try to compensate for their higher risk of physical injury with better compensation, benefits and time off to try to balance out the dangers,” Payne says.
More recently, however, the rise in mental health issues as a result of job stress has inspired many companies across the country to re-evaluate their practices and employee expectations.
“Poor mental health has ramifications to organizations, including leading to less productivity and reducing employee retention. That’s partly why many companies are focusing on sustainable programs for mental health,” Payne says.
In a recent survey, Monster Canada found that one out of four workers has left a job due to stress, 17 per cent have considered it, and overall, 58 per cent of working Canadians say they are overworked. Those new to their careers and making less than $40,000 per year were most likely to report leaving a job due to stress (38 per cent), while the next earning bracket, $40,000 to $59,000, were 27 per cent more likely to quit for stress-related purposes.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has similarly distressing statistics regarding workplace mental health. In any given week, 500,000 Canadians do not go to work due to a psychological health issue, and work-related mental health issues cost the economy $20 billion per year.
“Mental health stressors are also increasing because of outside factors, including monetary pressures, environmental concerns, AI and the fact that everything in society has become immediate. This puts extra pressure on people’s lives,” Payne says. “It’s a combination of things.”
Health.com lists nursing home and childcare workers, food service staff, social and health-care workers, and artists, entertainers and writers among the people who suffer the highest rates of depression. Most of this is due to low pay, stressful situations, a sense of thanklessness and irregular hours.
At the very least, Payne says, many companies are making efforts to curb the physical and mental ramifications of irregular hours due to shift work.
“Many industries have stopped flipping between putting people on day shifts and night shifts because of the challenges it puts on the body, and the fact that it makes people less alert. If you work nights, it’s best to stay that way because it takes the body a long time to adjust.”
The jobs that are most beneficial to mental health can’t really be specified by profession, title or industry because a lot of it depends on personal standards and individual cultures.
“People’s own circumstances create the wellness in the job. They’ll go into a certain job because they love it. If you’re an extrovert, you’d love a job where there’s a lot of collaboration with colleagues, whereas an introvert would think it was awful,” Payne says.
“I also believe it’s about the environment in which the person works that creates the most benefit. A non-threatening, collaborative and supportive place that encourages work-life balance is going to make the job enjoyable.”