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Working behind a bar more dangerous than being a cop in the US

Via the Marginal Revolution blog, which has lots of useful and eye-catching facts, as well as more high-minded economics stuff, is this bar-chart from “Ninja Economics” showing that, according to presumably US figures, working behind a bar carries more risk of death than being a police officer.

The most dangerous occupation is that of a logger, followed by a fisher and then pilot/flight engineer.

Many of the jobs involve working outdoors with heavy machinery, in areas such as mining, or in occupations such as roofing, maintenance, agriculture and ranching. Somehow, I don’t think the “snowflake” generation is interested, but those who are interested in Mike Rowe’s “dirty jobs” might be.

30 comments to Working behind a bar more dangerous than being a cop in the US

  • Andrew Duffin

    When did fishermen turn into “fishers”?

    This nonsense has gone far enough imho.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Andrew, give it a rest. We say “roofer”, not “rooferman”. I don’t get too bothered about that sort of thing any more.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    When did fishermen turn into “fishers”?

    Some time before the 1380’s -1390’s. From Wycliffe’s Bible:

    18 And Jesus walked beside the sea of Galilee, and saw two brethren [Soothly Jesus, walking beside the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren], Simon, that is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting nets [sending a net] into the sea; for they were fishers.
    19 And he said to them, Come ye after me, and I shall make you to be made fishers of men

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Nicely spotted, Natalie!

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Talking of fishers of men and the topic of this post, this 2001 Guardian article that says Clergy at same risk of attack as police officers because they “have to deal professionally on their own with a higher proportion of deranged, drunk, drugged and abusive people than other caring groups.” Teaching is pretty dangerous too. I remember the huge collective sigh of relief in the staff room when one particular young criminal decided to bunk off permanently.

    Of course the race-baiters in the US and their imitators here will ensure that the recent statistical blip in the dangerousness of being a police officer will become permanent if they have their way, with the same eventual effect on the dangerousness of being anything.

  • staghounds

    Only if dangerous means deadly. And teachers, clergy, and hospital workers can call the police for the most dangerous and violent. None of them are EXPECTED to wade into danger.

    Fire fighters and police have no one to call.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Staghounds, I wouldn’t deny that for a moment. I was just adding teachers, clergy etc. to the list of “surprisingly dangerous professions.” Your example of hospital workers rings true as well – a doctor I know was nearly murdered by a druggie.

  • Mr Ed

    I knew a geologist, he was a fissureman.

  • Alisa

    …or a fissurer?

  • “Non mining extraction workers”

    That’ll be oil and gas workers, then. A lot of our safety stuff has come as a result of $100+ oil making caution affordable. You can expect the injury and fatality rate to increase as the industry adapts to lower prices.

  • llamas

    You have to be awfully-careful with ‘officer-killed-in-the-line-of-duty’ stats in the US.

    For example, the most-commonly cited stats for ‘officers killed in the line of duty’ in the US for 2015 include

    – 5 Federal officers killed by an IED in Iraq, FGS – what that has to do with US policing is beyond me.
    – 3 officers in Puerto Rico killed by a ‘disgruntled’ fellow officer

    as well as several others where the exact situation is not clear. However, if we want a number of ‘ US police officers murdered for being police officers’ for 2015, it appears to be about 50 officers.

    Taking a generally-accepted figure of 1 million police officers in the US, that’s then a rate of 5 officers per 100,000 murdered each year. This contrasts with a murder rate for the entire population of approximately 4 persons per 100,000.

    So being a police officer in the US does not mean a hugely-enhanced risk of being murdered over that of the general population. It’s certainly not true to suggest that police officers ‘risk their lives every day’ at a relative risk much greater than the average citizen does.

    There is a certain subset of the US police-officer community which espouses a ‘warrior’ mindset and seeks to position police officers as some sort of supermen who face incalculable risks every day, who can expect to be gunned down without warning every time they stop a motorist for a broken tail-light, and who must therefore be ready to resist murederous attacks at all times and are justified in employing overwhelming force against even the mere possibility of any danger at all to themselves.

    The truth, of course, is a little different. I’m not dismissing the dangers that a very-few police officers may very-rarely face, but most police work is boring, routine drudgery with very low risk to the individual officer – as the statisitics show. There is simply no reason or evidence for projecting those very-rare risks onto the performance of everyday policing, or for allowing the expectation of those risks to structure the way everyday police work is done. This is the most-dangerous kind of ‘worst-first’ and movie-plot thinking, a virtual recipe for violence and death if allowed to become the norm. It’s my opinion that the ‘warrior’ minset and the behiors it encourages are the cause of a significant number of uncessary deaths and injuries – of police officers and of citizens.

    It’s been my experience that if you go out into the world looking for trouble, you will generally find what you are looking for. Those police officers who believe that the whole world is a violent, lawless place where they face vast risks every day, and who default to violence in the face of any risk, no matter how slight, are fated to inhabit the world they imagine. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to inhabit it with them.

    Remember – I used to be a police officer in the US, and I tend to be generally-sympathetic and -understanding of the safety issues of being an officer. But the directions in US policing that I see these days seem to me to be headed down a very bad road – for everybody.

    I wish that former regular commenter Sunfish was here to give his input.



  • Jason

    I thought with second hand cigarette fumes removed from pubs, the pub keepers were now expected to live much healthier longer lives. But this article seems to ignore the largest risk to pub keeping that has been removed forever from the list of danger.

  • Paul Marks

    Interesting post.

  • bobby b

    Black Lives Matter types decry cops being hostile to blacks.

    Cops decry people being hostile to cops.

    Here’s a clue that I wish both groups would pick up on:

    Over my half-century of life here in the U.S., more and more cops are being obnoxious jerks to everyone.

    Blacks, you’re not alone. It’s not just y’all who feel ill-treated and disrespected and abused by an insular and cynical cadre of revenue collectors with chips on their shoulders. They’ve become, more and more, jerks to everyone. What you seem to ascribe to racism isn’t necessarily so. I, the prototypical old (well, older) white guy who dresses conservatively (ties, even) and drives a nice-looking sporty upscale suburban vehicle, routinely get pulled over and treated like dirt by cops who seemingly wish mostly to goad me into some bad reaction so that they have reason to assert their dominance.

    Cops, it’s not just blacks who now think of you as just another gang. Granted, the BLM complaints which center on race are mis-aimed, but you should derive little comfort from that. The new law enforcement model isn’t racist; it’s uniformly and multiculturally despicable.

    We don’t consider you to be racist jerks. We just consider you to be jerks. That hostility you’re feeling – the hostility that makes you feel like targets – stems from your disrespectful and nasty treatment of all of us – equally.

  • llamas

    =1 bobby b.

    For an example in a accessible format, if you can access podcasts of the US radio show ‘This American Life’, go look for an episode from a while back called ‘Got You Pegged’ and listen to Act 1, The Fat Blue Line.

    For this who cannot access this, the transcript is here:


    I suspect it might be on the Tube of You also.

    This first-person account of an encounter between NY City officers and a black man contains a continual stream of the exact dominance/assertion behaviors that bobby b describes. The goading, taunting, insulting, call-and-response methods described should not be unfamiliar to fans of Scorsese’s best work – it is the classic verbal technique of the gangster. And it is being taught to, and encouraged in, police officers – the compulsion to dominate the interaction, to suppress and shut down any resistance (whether physical or verbal) and demand absolute, immediate compliance. With that mindset, it’s a very short step to seeing any failure to comply immediately as being ‘resistance’, and to interpret virtually any action, or lack of action, as a threat.

    I’ve harped on this before, but many US police officers now present themselves as some sort of paramilitary force. Did you see the US police chief (I don’t recall where he was from) who spoke at the RNC convention last night? He was tarted up with more military-style bling that a Ruritanian admiral, including full medals and military achievement badges. Many US police chiefs now disport themselves with generals’ stars or colonels’ eagles, as well as fourrageres and all kinds of other military dress. And, of course, we’re seeing endless footage of masses of police officers appearing in public dressed from head to toe in military garb and carrying battlefield weapons and driving around in military vehicles. Well, guess what? You pose around like an army, people are going to see you like an army – and an army is not there to protect, it is there to invade and occupy.

    Sure, people need to change their attitudes. But, as bobby b notes, the police need to change their attitudes, too. Thing is – I don’t think it’s going to happen.



  • Vinegar Joe

    “I wish I was a fisherman
    tumbling on the sea
    far away from dry land
    and its bitter memories
    casting out my sweet line
    with abandonment and love
    no ceiling bearing down on me
    save the starry sky above
    with Light in my head
    and you in my arms” – Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys

  • Julie near Chicago

    As usual when people get to discussing Who Is Most Wronged, as well as lots of other things where Statistics is dragged in to support everybody’s favorite side, the Statistics alone don’t tell you much of anything. And especially not the flashier ones. The ones that get the most press.

    Here is an illustrative situation. That it is fictional is beside the point.

    We are in the neo-natal unit (a.k.a. the Nursery) of a small hospital. Two nurses are on duty, aged 24 and 36. Also, four kids popped today; the hospital doesn’t see much in the way of problematic newborns, so they’re the only babes in the unit. By convention, each has an official age of 0.

    Average age of persons in the unit is thus 10 years old. It’s lunchtime. Virtually all 10-year-olds like peanut-butter sandwiches (in the good ol’ U.S., anyway), so the hospital dietician has ordered 10 smallish PB sammiches to be sent up to the unit. Along with a healthful 1-cup carton of skimmed milk.

    At quitting time, the nurses both stop at Personnel on their way to their cars, in order to resign. They are hoping to make it through the parking lot and to the nearest MickeyD’s before passing out from hunger.

    The babies are all screaming piteously, something about being starved to death. What, they don’t like PB sandwiches? How un-American is that!

    In some places cops really are at quite high physical risk, relative to most occupations. In others, not much. What, exactly, is accomplished by looking at degree of physical danger to police countrywide?

  • Julie near Chicago

    By the way. I assume that “mining extraction workers” are people who work at mining extractions, although the phrase actually can’t be parsed in English. “Non mining extraction workers” is a head-scratcher, unless what one means is “non-mining-extraction workers,” which isn’t great either. Perhaps, whatever “extraction workers” might be, the phrase refers to those among them who are “non-mining,” that is, who don’t mine.

    My rough guess is that this group excludes dentists, and dads who operate on their kids’ slivers using either a tweezers or a burnt needle. (Ouch. I know all about that extraction routine.) There are also folks who extract erroneous lines of computer instructions, and those who edit some ignorant author’s multiple redundancies. Unfortunately, such editors seem to be AWOL these days.

    Although I suppose I might write about “mining for slivers,” or “… for my tooth,” which strikes me as possibly amusing. ;>)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, I do have to admit (weeping copiously) that even I know what people mean by things like “extraction workers,” assuming there’s a context to narrow the field. So bowing to the imperfections of the reality we were saddled with, the hyphenated version that works best is “non-mining extraction workers,” meaning those who work at extraction (of whatever from wherever…debuggers…editors…dads…people who remove wanted resources from beneath the ground).

    Bringing us back to topic: I’m under the impression that the people who work on oil rigs have quite dangerous jobs, statistically, whereas airplane pilots are generally pretty safe, or at least so the insurance companies think. Admittedly I haven’t read the article *blush of shame*; perhaps “pilots/flight engineers” includes those in the military and those who are test pilots, in other words not your average 60,000-hour ATR or 100-hour SEL types.

    . . .

    llamas: I join you. I miss Sunfish too. Also Subotai Bahadur. –Who once in awhile, it turns out, surfaces as neoneocon.com.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Q Why did three blondes walk into a bar and fall down?

    A. It was an iron bar!

  • Llamas:

    Also, the acceptance of the cop-fellators of the OBEY OR DIE mindset leads the cops to issue increasingly illegal orders. The head of the police union in Cleveland (where open carry of arms is legal) came out a few days before the start of the Republican convention and basically said Screw the Constitution; make my life easier.

    Note that he’s quoted saying both, “We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something—I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point,” and “We are going to be looking very, very hard at anyone who has an open carry, […] I couldn’t care less if it’s legal or not“.

    Yet when I post things like this, people still respond, “But black people commit more crime!” as if that makes police thuggery acceptable somehow.

  • David

    A lot of criticism of police personnel here and undoubtedly some of it well and truly justified. When things go seriously wrong and assistance is needed however the first organization called is usually the police. That organization will either be a local city, County or State based one depending on whatever country you live in. From extensive travel I have found that police within the Anglosphere have been courteous and helpful when approached.

    As an observation from news broadcasts of the Dallas shooting it was obvious the reaction of the police on site was that they, like Gruchy’s Prussians, headed toward the sound of the guns. Everyone else was headed the other way.

    Sometimes it seems that even though police personnel are drawn from within the community they live in they are expected to somehow suddenly change into a personality beyond reproach. It is right to expect a high standard of ethical behaviour but is it right to expect that standard to be above that the surrounding community is prepared to also adopt?

  • David


    ATR, SEL?

  • Chester Draws

    And teachers, clergy, and hospital workers can call the police for the most dangerous and violent.

    Seriously? You think that an enraged student, parishioner or patient with a knife and intent to wound or kill is going to wait while you ring the Police?

    If a student, parishioner or patient hasn’t hurt you by the time the Police arrive, then they were never that much danger anyway.

    A friend of mine was stabbed by a student in the leg with a pair of scissors because she didn’t like a mark he gave her. No warning. No previous suggestion of physical violence. Just stabbed him out of the blue one day.

  • CaptDMO

    Bar tenders?
    30 years ago it was Gypsy cab drivers, and Bodega clerks.
    Of course, Crack Cocaine was entering the fray then.

  • llamas

    @David – your points are well-taken. There’s no denying that many individual police officers will commit selfless acts of bravery that few others would, and risk death and serious injury to save and protect total strangers.

    But that should not be used as any sort of reason to excuse the kinds of things that are being discussed here – abuse of citizens, unjustified violence, and the general hardening of police behavior in ways that only escalate conflict and resentment.

    This is a tack often taken by police apologists and police union leaders – including the members of the FOP chapter of which I am a past member. ‘Well, it’s a dangerous job (not really), we make split-second, life-or-death decisions (hardly-ever), they wouldn’t want to have to deal with the people we deal with every day (probably-true), so the public should just shut up and not complain if, every now and then, some hood rat has to take a beating that he probably deserves anyway, if not for this, then for the last time. We’re the only thing standing between them and rampaging mobs of brown-skinned people running riot in the streets, so they shouldn’t look too closely at what we do.’

    Really. Too many police officers talk, and think, like this.

    The two are not connected. You can be a brave and heroic public servant, and still not abuse the citizens you deal with every day. Far too many police officers want to use the blanket of public approval and admiration as a way to deflect attention from their bad behaviors.

    Firefighters enjoy huge public support precisely because they really do frequently risk life and limb to save the lives and property of others. But you don’t see them using that support to justify stealing from burning homes – well, we take risks every day, you should let us slide a bit if we pocket something, now and again. But that’s precisely the sort of free pass that too many police officers and their supporters want us to give them.

    Nobody’s asking for a ‘personality beyond reproach’. But we are paying these people to keep the peace and enforce the law, and we have a right to expect that they do so without abusing, beating, shooting and killing innocent citizens, and without behaving in ways which seem designed to escalate conflict, encourage violence and foment the very behaviors they are supposed to be preventing. With all rates of crime falling in the long term, it’s almost as if they are deliberately making work for themselves to make up for it.



  • The data indicate that blacks commit 24% of known-perpetrator US crimes and that 7.8% are unknown perpetrator, giving an overall pro-rata figure of 26%, and that 26% of police shootings kill blacks. A less precise equality than that would be enough to expose the absurdity of the BLM narrative.

    These figures are equally consistent with the police shooting too few members of the public or too many or about the right number. They merely expose the phoniness of the ‘racist shootings’ narrative. Some “notorious” shootings (Zimmerman*, Wilson) were blatantly good shoots. Some (the breathless guy selling loosies) were very understandable accidents. Some sure look like bad shoots; Rahm Emmanuel did not suppress that video without cause. One could compare the total complained of versus the ones that would deserve investigation in a sane world to guess a proportion of good to poor policing. But since it is distressingly clear that those who make this fuss could not care less, one can only hope for justice in each case at the end of the day (probably imperfect even then for the innocent – IIRC Wilson had to quit), while llamas’ points await better times. I can’t imagine a worse environment in which to reform general police behaviour than one in which a specific political narrative that they know is a lie is literally getting them murdered.

    *(I’m aware Zimmerman was neighbourhood watch, not cop.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    David, sorry.

    ATR — Airline Transport Rating. FAA license to act as captain of a scheduled airline’s plane.

    SEL — FAA license to fly planes in the category “Single-Engine Land.” One’s first (usually) FAA certification, as a private pilot. One may fly a single-engine plane over land, carrying passengers. (Yes, an SEL license lets you cross the Mississippi. *g*)

    (The licenses are based on the applicant’s having completed various training requirements, and passed an exam and a flight test.)

  • Laird

    @ David: “is it right to expect that standard to be above that the surrounding community is prepared to also adopt?”

    Yes. Because the “surrounding community” isn’t given the legal monopoly on the use of force, or protected by the “qualified immunity” (near-total immunity, in reality) enjoyed by the police. So yes, I do indeed hold them to a higher standard of conduct.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Question: would bartenders still be at more risk of death than police if they were all armed, all fit, all wore body armor, and all worked in mutually protecting pairs? Because I can’t see many ways for a bartender to be fatally injured at work except being shot in a robbery.

    “most police work is boring, routine drudgery with very low risk to the individual officer…”

    Most military service is boring, routine drudgery with very low risk to the individual soldier. Wartime service has been described as long periods of excruciating boredom alternating with brief intervals of stark terror.