Since writing for InfoBarrel doesn’t involve too much of a risk, I present you the world’s six most dangerous jobs!
Oil Well Firefighter
When Iraq retreated from Kuwait in 1991, they set the oil wells on fire. An oil fire is extremely difficult to extinguish due to their enormous fuel supply. It took thousands of specialists from many countries to finally extinguish the fires in Kuwait. Oil fires can be extremely hot, and very polluting (for nature and for the people trying to extinguish them), so fighting them can be very dangerous. Usually the fires are put out “from a distance”: in Kuwait, several methods were used to put them out, like pumping in 15,000 litres of sea water per minute into the well, or blowing away the flame with dynamite. Because of the complex nature of an oil well fire, oil well firefighting is not easy and has its own specialists.
A steeplejack is someone who works at (very) high altitudes. Steeplejacks are commonly used in large metropoles to build sky scrapers. In the past years, the economy hasn’t been doing well and this is reflected in the quality of building. Because contractors have to build cheaper and cheaper, they cut back on safety measures for the builders. This is especially dangerous for steeplejacks working at high altitudes. Sometimes contractors tend to take on foreign workers, which work more cheaply but are also less experienced and less educated.
The sulfur miners from the Ijen Crater in Indonesia don’t have a life you should envy. These men rise early each morning to descend into the crater and gather sulfur. Down in the crater, there’s usually a thick acidic smoke which makes it heavy to breathe in these very unhealthy conditions. The workers gather the sulfur that has dried after it’s been transported from the volcano through ceramic pipes. After breaking then sulfur in small pieces, workers carry their load of up to 70 to 100 kg (154 to 220 lbs) sulfur to the processing station at the base of the volcano. They can make this trip 2 or 3 times a day, and earn about 2 cents per kilogram they transport. Working conditions are clearly not the most healthy ones. Therefore, the workers’ life expectancy is not more than 30 years.
And I don’t mean the painter who paints a beautiful landscape with a bridge. I mean the guys who make sure large bridges don’t lose their color or show signs of rust over time.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco is painted “international orange”. The bridge doesn’t get repainted every few years, but a team of 38 painters is constantly fixing small spots with insufficient paint. The bridge’s height is 227 meters (746 ft), so these painters can be at very high altitudes. Although the bridge is constantly being fixed, in 1968 there was just too much rust to be able to handle it. So the paint was stripped and a zinc silicate primer and vinyl topcoat replaced the original coating. Since 1995, an acrylic topcoat is being used, although the aesthetic difference isn’t visible.
Smoke jumpers are like the special forces of firemen: they’re dropped from a helicopter or plane into raging forest fires, where they try to stop them. They’re armed with axes, chainsaws and fire resistant clothing, because what they do is extremely dangerous. To bring the progress of a forest fire to a halt, the smoke jumpers quickly try to remove all the vegetation that can burn, like dry trees and bushes. Many countries who regularly face forest fires make use of the services of smoke jumpers, like Russia, the US, Canada and Australia. While this is possibly a very dangerous job, the risks of jumping into a fire are thoroughly assessed.
Chinese Mine Worker
China’s electricity production relies on coal for around 75-80%. There’s a lot of coal needed to supply for that. China’s got vast natural reserves of coal, but the coal needs digging. Much of the Chinese population works in the mines, with barely any mechanical help. A Chinese mine worker digs up 321 metric tons of coal anually, which is 2.2% of an American mine worker or 8.1% of a South African mine worker. Being a mine worker isn’t that deadly, but being a Chinese mine worker is: an average mine worker in China has 117 times more chance to die in the mines than his American collegue.