Pennsylvania lawmakers created our workers’ compensation system mostly to cover medical bills and lost wages from a work-related injury or illness.

Of course, workers always face a variety of risks, and some jobs have long been more dangerous than others. But many of the workers who Pennsylvanians rely on to meet their most basic needs have unusually dangerous jobs.

Pennsylvania workers need workers’ comp on their side

A University of Pennsylvania assistant professor recently reminded us that some of the most dangerous jobs in America are vital to American society.

Robert Hughes of the Wharton School’s legal studies and business ethics department told CNBC, “We need food, we need homes with roofs, and a society like ours couldn’t do without lumber. Jobs that involve driving are dangerous, but our society can’t do without drivers.”

These are some of the reasons our state makes employers carry workers’ compensation, which is an insurance policy bought on your behalf as a worker.

Presumably, employers know enough about their businesses to understand the risks that their employees’ jobs involve. And employers should understand their obligations under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

A few of Pennsylvania’s more dangerous jobs

In the previous few years, Pennsylvania’s overall rate of job injuries and fatalities has been respectable when compared with other states. Only 14 of the 49 other states had lower rates of fatal workplace injuries.

However, many of America’s most dangerous jobs also show up in Pennsylvania data too. This is true, at least, measuring our danger levels using each job’s rate of injuries that cause days away from work, changes in job position, and/or restrictions on what a worker can do on the job.

Perhaps our most dangerous job is processing meat from the carcass, with the slaughtering process and poultry processing also being relatively dangerous work.

Virtually tied with meat processing is work associated with alcoholic beverage wholesaling, along with grocery wholesale work. Injuries in these jobs most often come from falling objects, workers falling and transportation injuries.