Blue-collar or white-collar, indoors or out; creative or mundane—every profession has its health risks. Some have dangerous working conditions, while others can slowly chip away at your mental and physical health with long hours, high stress, and depressing work environments.
Both of these professions have high rates of injuries, illnesses, and on-the-job fatalities, but that's not the only reason they made this list. Emergency responder jobs are very stressful. More firefighters actually die of heart attacks on the job than they do from going into burning buildings. It's the unpredictability, having to go from zero to 100 on very short notice; you have to be on high alert at all times.
Long hours, sleep deprivation, and poor eating habits at work also threaten the health of these workers.
Nine-to-fivers may not face the immediate danger of say, the police officer, but a growing body of evidence suggests that the sedentary, indoor lifestyle of office workers is still among the top threats to long-term health and wellness.
Sitting all day has been linked to back pain, repetitive stress injuries, obesity, an increased risk of heart disease, and a shorter lifespan—even among people who squeeze in exercise before or after work.
What can you do? Protect yourself by taking frequent breaks during the day and getting outside for a brisk walk and some fresh air.
Jobs working with heavy objects or machinery are risky. There were more tham 65 thousand cases of injuries and illness among laborers, stock, and material movers in 2015, a higher number than any other job.
Some of the more traditional areas of hazardous hard labor—agriculture, fishing, mining, farming—continue to be high-risk jobs, as well, although they now make up smaller portions of the population than they used to says.
Lawyers have higher rates of stress and depression than the general public. A 2007 survey found only four out of 10 lawyers would recommend the career.
Lawyers bill by the hour, which promotes long days, says Harper, who also blogs. Young professionals don't have much autonomy—if they can even get a job, he adds.
Healthcare shift workers
Ironically, those who are tasked with keeping the rest of us healthy often aren't in positions to easily do the same for themselves. Shift workers—nurses and ER doctors, for example—face threats including sleep disorders, elevated stress hormones, and increased risks of diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and heart disease.
Those who work long hours, and those whose jobs require less physical activity, are at greatest risk.
Service and retail employees
In terms of healthcare access and employer-sponsored benefit plans, it's the low-wage workers across several industries—especially service and retail—who are at the highest risk of being left out. Even if insurance is offered for purchase, many of these workers can't afford it and instead opt to go without.
These jobs—including cashiers, retail salespeople, and restaurant servers—can also be thankless and unrewarding, as well as physically stressful. Women in the food-service profession are more likely to be depressed than those in other careers.
This profession, involves extreme physical demands, life and death decisions, and long periods of time away from family. That puts active members of the armed services in an unhealthy position, whether or not they see combat.
Bullying and psychological abuse from peers and supervisors happen more frequently in the military than in other industries.
Soldiers can also be prone to post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems; a 2012 study found suicide rates among active Army soldiers rose sharply between 2004 and 2008.
Transit and intercity bus drivers had the highest rate of injuries and illnesses of all occupations, and light and delivery truck drivers aren't that far behind.
Bus, truck, and taxi drivers face long hours behind the wheel, often breathing in exhaust fumes or eating unhealthy fast food.
Sleep problems and on-the-job sleepiness are common among transportation professionals (which can include pilots and train operators). And then there's the biggest threat of all: Motor-vehicle accidents are consistently the leading cause of workplace fatalities.