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
Local

VIDEO: In Israel, Michael Bloomberg calls Wolf Blitzer…

CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked if the billionaire, three-term former Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought there might be political reasons for the FAA's decision.

Local

Advocates say MTA has room to improve service…

Advocates released a new study that suggests low-tech tweaking of subway posters and higher-tech fixes to improve the service interruption experience

Local

Seven arrests made in $1.6 million StubHub cyberfraud…

Police have arrested seven people on charges they were tied to an international ring that defrauded eBay Inc's StubHub online ticketing service of some $1.6 million, the latest in a…

National

Giant ketchup bottle up for sale in southern…

By Mary WisniewskiCHICAGO (Reuters) - Want a giant historic order of fries with that?A water tower shaped like a 170-foot-tall ketchup bottle is for sale…

Movies

Dakota Fanning's indie growing pains on 'Very Good…

Dakota Fanning on her latest "Very Good Girls."

Entertainment

Britney Spears launches new lingerie line and fans…

Women everywhere can say that they are not that innocent when Britney Spears launches her new lingerie and loungewear line. “Every woman should feel confident…

Arts

Artist Fiona Yang creates stunning 3-D murals that…

Vancouver-based artist Fiona Tang creates large-scale murals of animals that appear three-dimensional.

Television

Portia de Rossi to appear on 'Scandal'

Portia de Rossi will be appearing in a few episodes of "Sandal" in a yet-to-be-revealed arc.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

NFL

3 storylines to watch as Jets open training…

Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be in for an even tougher job in 2014 after arguably his best coaching job last season.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…

Style

Jennifer Oz LeRoy tell us how to lunch…

Jennifer Oz LeRoy tells us what to pack for a day in the surf and sand.

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Wellbeing

Marijuana lube is a real thing

Heighten your sexual experience by actually getting high. Foria, a cannabis-infused "sensual enhancement oil," is now on the market, kind of — residents of California…