Risk vs Reward: How well paid are the most dangerous jobs?

What is the price of a dangerous job? For many, the answer is simple: where there is a high-risk job, high salaries surely must follow.

A fair assumption, you might think, but is this reality? Or are UK workers sleepwalking into risky roles which simply do not offer the salaries they deserve?

To find out, we analysed 20,000 of our settled Injury at Work cases (2014-2019). These were anonymised and used in conjunction with Glassdoor’s salary data.

Risk vs Reward

When we look at which job types offer the greatest risk/reward balance, office workers strike the happiest medium. Warehouse and office managers, for instance, earn more than £29,000 (the average UK wage) and make claims below the median frequency.

When we move away from the office space and onto the shop floor, however, risk far outweighs reward. Retail workers, for instance, earn some of the lowest salaries in our survey (approx. £17k) but are also some of the most frequent claimants.

Managing directors, on the other hand, achieve the dream risk/reward scenario. They earn more than £120k p/a and make only two claims on average each year.

Frequency of claims vs salary

While every occupation affords its own degree of risk, it seems that those who earn less than the average national salary are most likely to make a claim (72%).

Within this salary bracket, those who earn between £16,000-£19,000 are in the “riskiest” jobs, with around 34% of workers making a claim in their day-to-day. This group includes a wide variety of job roles, with everything from manual labourers (builders, cleaners, farm workers) to hospitality personnel (receptionists, bar staff, cabin crew) amongst this group.

Interestingly, once salaries surpass the £20k mark, total claims take a nosedive. These continue to decrease as salaries rise. For those earning £30k+, the number of injury claims filters down to single figures.

Claims by age

From the age of 18 (the minimum full-time age of employment), work-based injury claims rise steeply. After this point, each consecutive five-year window experiences its own mini “peak and trough” scenario.

While peaks occur sporadically, employees aged between 25-34 remain the most likely to make a claim. From 34 onwards, however, injury claims drift off. This is soon followed by a dramatic drop at around age 40 and a surprising uplift at 55. This resurgence in middle age rises enough to rival the total claims made by workers in their late 30s (28 vs 29 claims).

However, this seismic rise is ultimately the “last hurrah” for claim-making. After the age of 55, injury claims plummet as workers edge closer to retirement.