Dangerous engineering jobs

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published On: 13 Dec 2018

Every job has its potential dangers, and in the UK the chances of getting fatally injured during work are rather small. With the increase of technology and computers in our workplaces, the injuries sustained at work are decreasing.

However, some jobs in the engineering and technology industry are more dangerous than others. A lot of engineering jobs still involve huge machinery which needs to be used safely to avoid injury.

The pros of taking up a dangerous job can be fairly obvious: Higher pay (usually), good benefits and knowing you have a far more exciting job than many others. The cons can include unusual working hours, working in strange environments with extreme conditions (a pro for some!) and of course having a job that poses a high element of risk. Here’s a small list of the most dangerous industries currently in the UK, according to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).


The construction industry is renowned for its rigorous approaches to health and safety – but there’s always an increased risk with the job. Between 2013/14, there were 42 worked-related deaths in this sector. Some may say that this figure is still pretty high in this day and age; however it has fallen dramatically in the last 40 years. Forty-five per cent of the 2013/14 figure was due to falling from height, rather than just 2 per cent being caused by being trapped by something collapsing. You have to always have your wits about you when working in construction!


According to the HSE, “Agriculture, forestry and fishing is the riskiest industry sector in terms of fatal injuries. One in a hundred workers (employees and the self-employed) work in agriculture, but it accounts for one in five fatal injuries to workers.”

In 2013/14 there were 27 fatal injuries to agriculture workers. Five of these injuries were due to moving vehicles.


In 2013/14 manufacturing accounted for around 10 per cent of both the British workforce, and of fatalities. During that period, there were 14 fatal injuries in this sector, - 3 as a result of being struck by an object.

Waste and recycling

Only 0.5 per cent of employees in Britain work in the waste and recycling industry. During 2013/14, there were four fatal injuries that were work related in the UK. Two of these injuries were sustained by self-employed people.

Mining and quarrying

Stereotypically, this sector can be considered to be one of the most dangerous for engineers. However, according to the HSE, in 2014/15 there was only one work-related fatality in the UK.

In the grand scheme of things, these are extremely low figures for fatalities in the workplace. The construction industry still remains the highest and most of those fatalities are from those who are self-employed. These days, we need to be able to work proficiently with both heavy machinery and computers. Health and safety in jobs such as these is more important than ever before.

More isolated occupations in engineering such as work on oil and gas rigs can be some of the most dangerous work out there. Special measures need to be taken to ensure workers aren’t on the rigs for extended periods of time.

Other sectors can be considered dangerous but not in a physical way. In the technology sector, your job can be a dangerous one for many different reasons. If you’re working in the defence sector in intelligence, you’re always at risk on a digital level. Your job can be dangerous because you need to be aware the huge consequences if confidential information accidentally gets leaked.

Have you had, or do you currently have, a pretty dangerous job? If so, we want to know about it! Email etj.editor@theiet.org.