While many people point to deep sea fishing as the world's deadliest profession or talk about the high fatality totals in the construction industry -- and those things do deserve attention -- the reality is that nothing takes more lives per capita than logging. The key is to look at it per 100,000 workers. It's a smaller industry than construction, for instance, but the fatality rate is higher.
Why is logging so dangerous? People often think of it nostalgically, as a time when people could explore the wilderness and do rewarding physical labor, but it's really just a tough, physically demanding job. It relies more and more on machines, which adds a whole second level of danger and injury potential.
Experts do note that many dangers loggers face are the same ones that they faced decades and even generations ago. When trees fall, they do so very quickly, with a lot of weight and momentum. All it takes is a slight miscalculation or a mistake -- or just a freak accident -- and those trees, weighing hundreds of pounds, can hit workers on the ground.
That danger becomes even more pronounced in rough, steep terrain. It's sometimes hard to predict how branches or trees will fall, and the terrain makes accidents harder to avoid. In Colorado, with its mountainous landscape, the risk remains very real.
On top of that, workers face risks from cranes, trucks, chainsaws, choppers, chippers, bulldozers and other logging machines. Even with personal protection equipment and proper training, people do get hurt. These are similar risks to those faced by construction workers and factory workers. When machines are involved, workers have to take on that level of risk.
Working in machines
One thing that can help to keep workers safe is giving them machines that they can work inside, such as bulldozers or cranes. Some industry professionals claim that a logger in a machine is anywhere from 10 to 20 times safer than a worker who is on the ground.
You can relate this, in some senses, to car accidents. Pedestrians face increased risks in an accident because they have no protection. Workers inside of caged machines have a layer of protection -- that steel frame -- that keeps them safe even during an accident.
Of course, that doesn't mean that they don't get hurt or even killed on the job. All workers face some serious risks in the world's deadliest profession.
Have you gotten injured on the job, or have you lost a loved one in an unfortunate accident? If so, it is very important that you understand your legal rights in Colorado and all of the steps you can take.