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The Most Dangerous Job in America


2012 was either a great or terrible year for loggers, depending upon how you look at it.

(Photo Credit: The Nick Page/Flickr)

There is a word for loose branches that get caught up near the tops of trees: “widow-makers.” These branches get shaken loose while the tree is being cut down, and fall to earth before loggers down below are ready for them.

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CNN Money reports that the median wage for loggers in 2012 was between $30,000 and $35,000. The death rate, however, was the highest of any other job that year at 127.8 out of 100,000 workers.

Job Description

Loggers work in teams to cut down and transport trees and lumber for use in various industries. They typically work in teams consisting of three separate categories:

1. Fallers are first on the scene and cut down large trees.

2. Buckers trim the branches and tops of the fallen trees. They also cut the logs into smaller pieces.

3. Choke Setters fasten steel cables or chains around the logs so they can be towed away.

All three roles use chain saws and/or other dangerous, heavy machinery.

Work Environment

Logging workers have to like being outdoors and in remote areas. Sometimes a job will be so far away from home that instead of commuting, workers simply camp out in the vicinity until the area is cleared and the job is finished.

Because their jobs are outdoors, loggers must deal with the less joyful aspects of nature, including heavy winds that may change the course of a falling tree, or tree roots protruding up from mud to trip them.

Mosquitoes, snakes, and poison oak or ivy add to the outdoor experience.


CNN Money interviewed Eric Johnson, editor of The Northern Logger and a former logger. Johnson expressed some surprise about the high 2012 death rate, “because the industry is mechanizing at a rapid rate, which should bring down fatalities.”

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Fireworks Man

…and we thought working in a fireworks factory was dangerous – sheesh!!

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