Idaho Industries Among Deadliest Jobs

Sep 21, 2012

Some jobs are more dangerous than others. New federal data shows which occupations are the most deadly. Some of them are common in Idaho.

There aren’t a lot of commercial fisheries in Idaho. So you’re not likely to have the most dangerous job in the nation. But the second is in one of Idaho’s oldest industries, logging.

Mark Mahon comes from a long line of Idaho loggers.
Credit Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

“My grandfather who I never met died in a logging accident when my dad was a teenager,” says Mark Mahon, who co-owns his family logging business in Council. “So as a result safety has been driven into our family and our business from day one.”

Still accidents happen. Twenty years ago Mahon’s father had his pelvis broken by a falling snag. Fortunately that’s the most serious injury he’s witnessed. Last year 64 loggers died on the job in the U.S. according to a report from the Bureau of Labor statistics. That’s a little more than one of every thousand loggers.

In Idaho last year a total of 37 people died at work. Most of those were in transportation accidents. Nationally driving is the most common way to meet a fatal accident while working. More than 800 professional drivers died on the job in 2011, but because of the large numbers of people in the industry, the percentages of deaths work out far lower than in jobs like logging.

One characteristic many of the deadliest jobs share is they’re done outside. Mark Mahon says that’s what can make logging dangerous. A lot of logging is now done from the safety of air conditioned machines, but sometimes they still have to grab the chain saws and hike up the mountain.

“You might have bees buzzing you, worrying about snakes, there’s a potential of rocks rolling down at you,” he says.

Another dangerous Idaho industry according to the study is agriculture. But not all farm jobs have the same risk. Nationwide three sheep farmers died with their herds last year but among cattle ranchers the death toll was 123.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio