Hawaii's Most Dangerous Jobs


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Many employees spend their days cooped up in the safety of an office building. Other workers, though, earn a living working in potentially hazardous conditions. The jobs might pay more, but also, it might come at a cost: their lives.

A total of 146 Hawaii workers were killed on the job between 2003 and 2009 (the latest figures available), according to Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations census of fatal occupational injuries. Causes of death included traumatic injuries, intracranial injuries, gunshot wounds, drownings, poisonings and suffocations. Aircraft and highway incidents, falls to lower levels and being struck by objects or equipment ranked among the top sources of fatalities. An occupation's physical demands have a lot to do with its relative safety, says Bill Kunstman, director of HDLR.

“Professional, scientific and technical services have the lowest rate of injuries: one in 86 were injured, as opposed to construction: one in 21,” he says. 

Here are the six deadliest industries in Hawaii.

 


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6.) Protective Service

Number of deaths (2003-2009): 10
Average salary (2011): $39,880

Occupations such as police, firefighters and lifeguards risk their lives every day to protect the lives of strangers and their property. Police roadside deaths in particular made the news last year, when 28-year-old Garret Davis was killed at a traffic stop, sparking a push for the Move Over bill, which was signed into law in July 2012.  Not every job in this category is equally dangerous: Veteran North Shore lifeguard Mark Dombroski says deaths for lifeguards on the job are close to nil.

 


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5.) Farming, Fishing, & Forestry Occupations

Number of deaths (2003-2009): 10
Average salary (2011): $32,470

Next time you peruse fresh fish, fruits and vegetables on grocery store shelves, consider the people who work in rough environments to get them there. Agricultural workers operate large, heavy machinery. Meanwhile, commercial fishers spend long hours catching fish at sea, where collisions and shipwrecks could occur.

 


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4.) Military

Number of deaths (2003-2009): 13
Average salary (2011): n/a

Serving on the front lines is certainly dangerous for our active duty troops, but the danger doesn't stop once they return home. PTSD-related suicide is an increasing problem. In fact, in 2012, military suicides outpaced combat deaths nationally among Army active and reserve personnel, 247 compared with 222.

 


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3.) Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance Occupations

Number of deaths (2003-2009): 14
Average salary (2011): $29,410

Occupations in this category include elevator maintenance repair, groundskeepers and pest control workers. Trimming trees proves to be consistently fatal--many from coconut trees. Five people died between Nov 2009 and Nov 2011, and three between January 2011 and July 2011.

 


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2.) Construction & Extraction

Number of deaths (2003-2009): 24
Average salary (2011): $60,550

Construction laborers nationwide faced one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses on the job, according to U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Falling from ladders and scaffolding, electrocution and getting struck by an object on a construction site ranked as the leading causes of death for these workers, reports OSHA.

 


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1.) Transportation and Material-Moving Occupations

Number of deaths (2003-2009): 38
Average salary (2011): $37,890

Hawaii’s commercial drivers, commercial pilots, air traffic controllers and flight attendants all work in an industry with the single highest number of deaths in Hawaii. It turns out aircraft incidents totaled higher than highway incidents, reports HDLR.  

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