Most dangerous industries in New York City

Detective Michael Oldmixon has worked on the NYPD Bomb Squad for 13 years. Credit: Miles Dixon/Metro
Detective Michael Oldmixon has worked on the NYPD Bomb Squad for 13 years. Credit: Miles Dixon/Metromo

Running a city as large and dynamic as New York comes with a cost – sometimes that’s in the form of physical injury or in the worst cases, even death. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in December that 71 New York City workers died on the job in 2011, the highest number in . At the top of the most dangerous industries for workers were jobs in trade, transportation and utilities, followed by construction and government.

Metro examined five of the jobs where the threat of injury looms large.

In his 29 years of maintaining the third rail for MTA subway, New Jersey resident Richard Holley said that he knew one co-worker who was electrocuted and another who was struck by a train. “It happens infrequently now because of all the safety regulations put in place,” Holley, 52, said. To ensure the third rail is constantly powering subway cars, Holley and his colleagues work in shifts around the clock. But rubber mats, insulated gloves and insulated tools have not prevented the 600-volt rails from exploding and injuring workers. “You can’t put enough safety precautions there as long as we’re working on the rail live,” Holley said.

New York cab drivers are another group that often put their life at risk, from dealing with drunken passengers to regularly being robbed. Taxi driver and Queens resident Key Chun Kim was beaten into a coma on New Year’s Day after fighting with a passenger over a fare. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance is currently pushing a bill to make it a felony to attack a taxi driver.

Cab driver John McDonagh said he has several safety precautions he’s learned in his years driving the city’s streets. He never double parks behind a car so he can pull out quickly when danger strikes. “I had a guy put a gun to my head once,” McDonagh, 58, said. “He wouldn’t pay through the window.” A native of Queens, McDonagh has been driving taxis since 1977. “Most of the problems happen at night,” he said. “You try to avoid insanely drunk people.” But most challenges come from passengers who pretend to have no cash, disappear into apartments to get money or use counterfeit bills. McDonagh hopes the new taxi-hailing app “Hailo” will make his job safer as users pay fares beforehand.

The Sandhogs have been blasting through the city’s bedrock since building the Brooklyn Bridge in 1870. They are now constructing the Second Avenue tunnel, which exploded at 72nd Street last August. No one was injured, but in 2011 falling concrete killed Michael P. O’Brien, 26, a Sandhog working under Park Ave. Such deaths are rare, however. “In order to construct anything people are going to get hurt,” Sandhog business manager Richard Fitzsimmons said.

Keeping New Yorkers safe puts the lives of NYPD bomb squad workers at danger as they dismantle suspicious packages, including the Times Square car bomb from 2010. Staten Island resident Detective Michael Oldmixon, 50, has been on the bomb squad for 13 years. “We had a guy with improvised hand grenades on him. We had to hold him down and cut all the stuff off,” he said of a Bronx incident in 2002. With bomb-sensing robots and dogs, injuries are few, although the risk remains.

Being an ironworker, one of the people, who build the city’s bridges and skyscrapers is in the blood for Barry Collins.

“It’s a thrilling career,” Collins, 60, said. Since his grandfather became an ironworker in the 1920s, Collins’ father, brother and several uncles and cousins have followed suit. “It’s not an easy job. It breaks your body down,” said Collins, a long-time Yonkers resident. “Even if you don’t get seriously hurt you’re always breaking fingers.” Regularly moving steel pieces seven tons or heavier means fingers and toes are easily crushed. Trauma is another risk. “A guy falls 20 feet and he breaks his leg. It’s horrible,” Collins said. “You go to work and you pray that everybody goes home safe.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…

National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NBA

Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.

NHL

Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Jason Kidd reacts to Mike Woodson being fired…

Jason Kidd played for Mike Woodson last year and Joe Johnson spent four seasons being the main focus on offense for Woodson in Atlanta.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.