Show Mobile Navigation
Health |

10 Ridiculously Safe Jobs That Ended Up Being Fatal

by Erich Soders
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Workplace accidents are a common occurrence. There are many dangerous jobs, which tend to have higher salaries to make up for the risk. Policemen, firefighters, bodyguards, and stuntmen are only a few examples of life-threatening professions.

However, purposely avoiding dangerous professions is far from a safety guarantee. Anyone can end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. And even the most risk-free jobs can occasionally lead to fatal workplace accidents.

SEE ALSO: 10 People Who Are Famous For Being Hilariously Terrible At Their Jobs

10 Janitor

In 2018, a man working for Bee-Clean Building Maintenance was found dead in Edmonton, Canada. Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) was notified that the 50-year-old janitor had died at the Workers Compensation Board of Alberta building.

OHS investigated the cause of death. Rob Scott, executive vice president of Bee-Clean Building Maintenance, stated “We are deeply saddened by what happened and our thoughts, prayers, and support are with the deceased worker’s family at this difficult time. We are working closely with the regulatory authorities to determine the cause of what appears at this time, to be a tragic accident.”[1]

The investigation later revealed that the man died after getting hit by an overhead garage door. Edmonton police noted that the man’s death is considered non-criminal.

9 Tobacco Farmer

Farming is not an easy job, but it is a fairly safe one. As long as farmers are careful around tractors and watch out for snakes, other threats are few. Unfortunately, not every source of danger can be foreseen and accounted for.

In February 2019, Zimbabwe, three tobacco farmers did not expect to be in harm’s way. They were grading tobacco in a grass-thatched shed when lightning struck and killed the trio. Police quickly confirmed the deaths as a tragic accident.

A few minutes after the thunderstorm began, 44-year-old John Gede was working nearby when he saw the shed on fire. He screamed for help, but it was too late to save the farmers. The 22-year-old Jameson, 21-year-old Mungate, and 16-year-old Onward Gede had instantly burnt to death from the lightning.[2]

8 Hotel Helper

On the third of January 2019, a boy in India had a fatal accident only two days after turning 13-years-old. He died six months after beginning work as a helper at a hotel. The boy was employed to wash utensils and do various housekeeping tasks.

While the government claims to be working on eradicating child labor, it is still common across India. The job seemed to be safe enough for a child, but the boy did not take proper care around a freight elevator used for moving food and other goods between hotel floors.

Staff members rushed to the kitchen area when they heard a loud crash. They found blood and remains sprayed across the walls. The boy’s body was stuck and his head had been crushed between the grill and the elevator. Police believe that the boy might have been looking down into the elevator shaft.

A federal inspection report was lodged against the hotel owner and manager for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and sections 75 and 79 of the Juvenile Justice Act, for cruelty to a child and exploitation, respectively.[3]

7 Actor

Good actors can make it seem like their life is on the line at all times. But except for Jackie Chan and a few other actors who do their own stunts, acting is a fairly risk-free job. Especially nowadays, when most of the dangerous scenes are created with special effects.

However, one dangerous tool is still commonly used in film production to this day—the prop gun. Producers who strive for realism prefer to use real firearms with blank ammo over replicas. While the idea seems flawless on paper, human error can quickly turn the prop into a deadly threat.

There have been a surprising number of deaths caused by prop guns throughout history but the most famous example might be the death of Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee.

Brandon signed on to play a role in “The Crow”, where his character is a murdered rock musician who comes back from the dead to take revenge. Near the end of production, Lee was performing his death scene when a bullet fired from the prop gun pierced his abdomen and ended up near his spine.

Reportedly, because it was a routine scene, and the movie was nearly finished, Carolco Studios had preemptively decided that the services of their firearms consultant were no longer required. The regular stage crew handled the prop gun instead.

The firearms consultant later concluded that a portion of a dummy bullet from a previous scene had become dislodged from its casing and remained in the cylinder. The gun fired, and the actor fell to the ground. Nobody realized that Brandon was really injured until blood oozed from his right side.

Lee was taken to a hospital but the surgeons could not repair the damage. He died on March 31, 1993. An investigation determined that his death was an accident. After shooting additional scenes to complete the film, “The Crow” was released one year later.[4]

6 Roller Coaster Operator

People often think roller coasters are dangerous. And they are absolutely correct. That is why roller coaster operators stay at a safe distance while handing out tickets, providing safety instructions, and starting and stopping the ride.

Additional duties, such as roller coaster maintenance, are typically taken care of before the attraction becomes operational. But Doug McKay, a co-owner of Paradise Amusements, climbed onto the platform of Super Loop 2 to lubricate a portion of the ride’s track while in use in 2003, Idaho.

A double-ended passenger cart—which rides on a single vertical loop like a roller coaster—struck McKay and carried him over nine meters (30 ft) into the air before dropping him. According to a medical examiner, the initial impact likely caused fatal head trauma on its own.

After falling, McKay struck on the ride several times before landing on a metal fence. Carnival workers and a number of children on the ride were traumatized. Many were spattered with blood. About 30 children who witnessed McKay’s death were rounded up and questioned by the police for an hour until the case was ruled as an accident.[5]

5 Tennis Linesman

Tennis linesmen are paid to carefully watch tennis games and call out whether a ball has fallen inside or outside the lines of the court. Many people already sit in a chair and watch professionals play tennis for free, so this job may sound like a dream come true for fans of the sport. However, even this seemingly safe job has led to a fatal accident.

In 1983 at the United States Open, tennis linesman Dick Wertheim was hit in the groin with a tennis ball served by Stefan Edberg of Sweden. He fell from his folding chair and hit his head on the ground, which rendered him unconscious.

Wertheim was taken to a hospital and put on a respiratory system but never regained consciousness and passed away five days later. He became the first person ever killed by a tennis ball in a tennis match.

Wertheim’s family sued the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for $2.25 million, accusing them of negligence in providing adequate safety precautions. The complete investigation revealed that the tennis ball strike was not the real cause of Wertheim’s death but USTA was still found 25% responsible and asked to give $165,000 jury award.[6]

4 Chef

While chefs might risk getting a cut or a burn, their lives are rarely at stake. But one chef in southern China was in more danger than he thought. Peng Fan was preparing a rare delicacy—a special dish made from the Indochinese spitting cobra. As he tried to discard the cobra’s head, which had been severed 20 minutes prior, the cobra bit his hand.

Indochinese spitting cobra victims asphyxiate after their respiratory system is paralyzed by the neurotoxic venom. The only thing that could save the chef’s life was the anti-venom available in a hospital. By the time medical assistance arrived, he was already dead.

According to snake expert Yang Hong-Chang, all reptiles can function for up to an hour after losing body parts or even their entire body. “It is perfectly possible that the head remained alive and bit Peng’s hand,” said the expert. “By the time a snake has lost its head, it’s effectively dead as basic body functions have ceased, but there is still some reflexive action.”

The snake was being made into a snake soup, which is highly sought after in high-end restaurants. And the snake’s skin is used to make expensive designer goods. The Chinese, who have been consuming snakes for centuries, believe that the more poisonous the delicacy, the more it benefits the body.[7]

3 Shepherd

Although watching over sheep is not the only duty of a shepherd, it is the most commonly associated responsibility. Safety is rarely a concern because wild animals and humans are more interested in the sheep instead. And it is one of the few jobs where falling asleep is almost expected. After all, shepherds spend a lot of time counting sheep.

In 2001, shepherd Mokhtar Adam Fadl was taking a nap beside his flock in the desert near Sidi Barrani, northwest Egypt. It was just another ordinary day at work until it took an unexpected turn, landing Mokhtar a spot in the history books for one of the most unusual deaths ever recorded. He was shot by a sheep.

Mokhtar had fallen asleep without properly securing his rifle. One of the sheep kicked his gun, accidentally firing a shot that landed in the 20-year-old Bedouin’s chest. The police confiscated the unlicensed, locally made gun.[8]

2 Lawyer

Clement Vallandigham was a former congressman, working as a lawyer on what he thought would be the greatest case of his life. He represented Thomas McGehean in what was believed to be a murder case in 1871, Ohio.

A man named Thomas Myers was playing cards in his room above a bar when five thugs burst in and a brawl broke out. As Myers got up, rushing to pull his pistol from his pocket, a muffled shot was heard. He pulled out the gun, fired a few shots and collapsed dead.

It was unclear what really happened in all the confusion but witnesses kept bringing up McGehean’s name—everyone knew there was bad blood between the two. So the judge and juries believed that McGehean was to blame for the murder.

Meanwhile, Vallandigham believed that Myers had actually shot himself by accident. He went out and conducted an experiment to establish the levels of residue left by a point-blank range shot. By the time Vallandigham was done, three live rounds remained in his pistol.

When the lawyer returned to his hotel room, he was handed a package with Myers’s gun for examination. He lay down both pistols side by side. As Vallandigham explained his theory to a visitor, he performed a demonstration.

The lawyer took a pistol which he believed to be empty and enacted the event as it may have happened. The pistol snagged on his clothing and unintentionally fired a bullet into his belly. Surgeons could not locate the projectile and Vallandigham died the next day.

The lawyer’s death served as proof for his theory and McGehean was acquitted. Reportedly, another man killed himself in the exact same way shortly after by trying to demonstrate how Vallandigham had died.[9]

1 Gardener

In 2014, UK, Nathan Greenaway was rushed to a hospital. Despite frantic analysis of his blood, doctors could not figure out what was wrong with the 33-year-old. Nathan died five days later from multiple organ failure.

Before his death, Nathan worked as a gardener on the £4m estate of Christopher Ogilvie Thompson. The link between his job and his death was only found when Nathan’s father carried out hours of tireless research to find out what happened.

North Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley concluded that the gardener most likely brushed up against a flower from the Aconitum genus. The genus contains more than 250 flower species, most of which are extremely poisonous.

Commonly known as aconite, Monkshood, Devil’s Hamlet, and Wolfsbane—Aconitum flowers can lead to poisoning through ingestion or handling without gloves. The poisoning causes dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, these symptoms are followed by palpitations, paralysis of the heart and airways, and death.

The attractive purple plant has claimed many human lives, including Canadian actor Andre Noble, who died after accidentally ingesting the plant in a camping trip in 2004. And Brit Lakhvir Singh dubbed the “Curry Killer”, poisoned her lover with a curry dish laced with Indian aconite in 2009.[10]

Can’t get enough of job related lists? Then check out 10 Weird Jobs You Had No Idea Existed and 10 Mundane Jobs That Horrified Our Ancestors.

fact checked by Jamie Frater