The Most Dangerous Jobs Throughout History

The Most Dangerous Jobs Throughout History

04th January 2021

Going to work has always been a dangerous business for millions of people. While safety standards are now higher than at any other time in human history, there are still some risky occupations around, although thankfully some of the worst jobs have now disappeared.

The Many Risks of Being a Miner

There are many different types of mining, but one thing that most of them have in common is the incredibly high risk of something going wrong. Fire, explosions and landslides have caused havoc at mines all over the world at different times, while as many as eight million miners are thought to have died in three centuries of digging at the world’s biggest silver mine in Potosi, Bolivia.

Perhaps one of the most jaw-droppingly perilous ways to earn money now is by harvesting sulphur from inside an active volcano. The sulphur miners of East Java, Indonesia suffer burns and damaged lungs as they collect the material for use in making matches, sugar and other products. In other parts of the world, improving technology has lowered the risk of mining, but it is still a dangerous job.

Fishing Isn’t as Relaxing as It May Seem

It is easy to view fishing as a relaxing, enjoyable hobby to carry out at the weekend. Yet, the people who do this to make a living risk life and limb to bring home the catch of the day. The International Labour Office pointed out back in 1999 than 24,000 people employed in the fishing industry die at work every year, with the fatality rate 40 times higher than the national average in the US.

While going fishing is risky in developed countries, the situation is even worse elsewhere. In the African nation of Guinea, the report says that one out of every 15 fishing canoes will have an accident. Falling overboard, catching hypothermia and receiving bites or bacterial infections are among the main hazards in this role that technology hasn’t yet been able to completely remove.

Child Chimney Sweeps Were Exposed to Huge Risks

While the previous jobs still exist, it is good to see that chimney sweeps no longer need to risk their lives in the way that they did in the past, especially since young boys were often used in this role. The Chimney Sweepers Act 1788 limited workers in this industry to a minimum of eight years old, but a few decades later the Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulation Act 1840 made the minimum age in the UK 21, as long brushes could be used instead of having a child climb up the chimney.

You might think that falling from the chimney was the biggest hazard in this age before the likes of safety ladders and other suitable equipment for working at heights. Yet, chimney sweeps also suffered from issues such as a kind of skin cancer caused by soot and from suffocation. For over two centuries, human chimney sweeps were among the first people in the world to suffer from industrial diseases due to a lack of protective clothing.