The 15 Jobs That Are Most Damaging to Your Health

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FILE - In this Tuesday, July 26, 2011, file photo, a worker hangs from an oil derrick outside of Williston, N.D. More than 1 million acres _ or 75 percent _  of available federal land in North Dakota has been leased for oil and gas development. What's left of the parcels are fetching jaw-dropping prices as drillers are attempting to lay claim to almost every acre in western North Dakota to exploit oil. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

Some jobs intrinsically have more health risks than others. A nurse working in a hospital is far more likely to catch an infectious disease than a lawyer working in an office.

To rank the most unhealthy jobs in America, we used data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a U.S. Department of Labor database full of detailed information on occupations.

In order to analyze jobs by their impact on workers' health, we took O*NET measures of six health risks in each of the 974 occupations in the database: exposure to contaminants; exposure to disease and infection; exposure to hazardous conditions; exposure to radiation; risk of minor burns, cuts, bites, and stings; and time spent sitting, since studies show that frequent inactivity shortens your lifespan. O*NET scores these factors on a scale from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating an increased health risk.


15. Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

Overall unhealthiness score: 55.0

What they do: Collect and dump refuse and recyclable materials into trucks.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to contaminants: 97
Time spent sitting: 69
Exposure to disease and infections: 63

14. Nuclear Equipment Operation Technicians

Overall unhealthiness score: 55.2

What they do: Operate equipment used for the release, control, or utilization of nuclear energy to assist scientists in laboratory or production activities.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to radiation: 89
Exposure to hazardous conditions: 77
Exposure to contaminants: 65

13. Medical, Clinical, and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians

Overall unhealthiness score: 55.3

What they do: Perform complex medical laboratory tests for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to disease and infections: 96
Exposure to hazardous conditions: 69
Exposure to contaminants: 68

12. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

Overall unhealthiness score: 55.7

What they do: Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo.

Top three health risks:
Time spent sitting: 93
Exposure to radiation: 73
Exposure to contaminants: 68

11. Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas

Overall unhealthiness score: 56.0

What they do: Rig derrick equipment and operate pumps to circulate mud through a drill hole.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to contaminants: 100
Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 93
Exposure to hazardous conditions: 91

10. Surgical Technologists

Overall unhealthiness score: 57.3

What they do: Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to disease and infections: 82
Exposure to contaminants: 81
Exposure to hazardous conditions: 59

9. Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators

Overall unhealthiness score: 57.7

What they do: Operate or maintain stationary engines, boilers, or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or industrial processes.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to contaminants: 99
Exposure to hazardous conditions: 89
Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 84

8. Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators

Overall unhealthiness score: 58.2

What they do: Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to contaminants: 97
Exposure to hazardous conditions: 80
Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 74

7. Immigration and Customs Inspectors

Overall unhealthiness score: 59.3

What they do: Investigate and inspect people, common carriers, goods, and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the U.S. or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to contaminants: 78
Exposure to disease and infections: 63
Exposure to radiation: 62

6. Podiatrists

Overall unhealthiness score: 60.2

What they do: Diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the human foot.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to disease and infections: 87
Exposure to radiation: 69
Time spent sitting: 61

5. Veterinarians and Veterinary Assistants/Technologists

Overall unhealthiness score: 60.3

What they do: Diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals and perform medical tests in a laboratory environment for use in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases in animals.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to disease and infections: 81
Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 75
Exposure to contaminants: 74

4. Anesthesiologists, Nurse Anesthetists, and Anesthesiologist Assistants

Overall unhealthiness score: 61.8

What they do: Administer anesthetic or sedation during medical procedures, using local, intravenous, spinal, or caudal methods or administer anesthetic, adjuvant, or accessory drugs under the direction of an anesthesiologist.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to disease and infections: 94
Exposure to contaminants: 79
Exposure to radiation: 71.8

3. Flight Attendants

Overall unhealthiness score: 62.3

What they do: Provide personal services to ensure the safety, security, and comfort of airline passengers during flight. Greet passengers, verify tickets, explain use of safety equipment, and serve food or beverages.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to contaminants: 88
Exposure to disease and infections: 77
Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 69

2. Dentists and Dental Hygienists/Assistants and Dental Lab Technicians

Overall unhealthiness score: 62.9

What they do: Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to disease and infections: 87.8
Exposure to contaminants: 76.2
Time spent sitting: 73.6

1. Histotechnologists and Histologic Technicians

Overall unhealthiness score: 63.8

What they do: Prepare histologic slides from tissue sections for microscopic examination and diagnosis by pathologists.

Top three health risks:
Exposure to hazardous conditions: 94
Exposure to contaminants: 91
Exposure to disease and infections: 75



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