Workplace Injuries of the Rich and Famous

Many people think about workplace injuries as those which befall farm laborers, auto mechanics, crab fishermen and bull-riders. Sometimes, though, the employee who gets hurt or killed on the job is very highly-paid star. James Hetfield of Metallica, for instance, was working when a pyrotechnic explosion set him on fire during a concert. From the Acadamy Awards to the Super Bowl, famous people have come up lame in hot pursuit of their chosen professions.

Entertainers In Jeopardy

Given the nature of his work, not too many people expressed much surprise when the news broke of Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin’s death from a stingray’s barb a few years back, but all expressed great sorrow. Irwin was a shooting star who left a trail of goodwill for (and understanding of) nature in his wake. Hollywood, too, has seen its share of leading men go down, including Jackie Chan (broken foot) and Paul Hogan (torn pectoral muscle). It’s an extra expense that the producers likely didn’t appreciate.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

In pro football, there is clearly an escalated chance of suffering an injury in the course of one’s duties. Sometimes, though, the nature of the disability has more to do with conduct that is not sanctioned on the gridiron. Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski found that out in 2003 after getting into a fight with teammate Marcus Williams during training camp. Romanowski pulled off Williams’ helmet and punched him in the face, breaking his orbital bone.

Rather than handing off the bills to his employer as a work-related matter, Williams sued his teammate directly. “This crossed the line,” he said. “This isn’t football.” Due in part to Romanowski’s volatile record on the field (he was once fined $4,500 for kicking another player in the head), Williams was victorious in court, although he only was awarded $340,000 of the $3.4 million he had sought in damages.

Construction Sites: No Place for Kids

Worker safety has increasingly been on the minds of employers over the past couple of decades – not because of any Dickensian softening of the heart, but because of the pressures of insurance premiums. When it comes to injuries in the workplace, few industries pose the percentage of risks associated with construction. In many cases, the worker who is injured or killed on the job is not even old enough to buy himself a drink.

Cut Short

Teenage workers, lacking the strength and experience of older employees, are prone to being injured or killed by way of falling, or having walls collapse on them, or being buried alive in ditches. They may not fully fathom safety guidelines, or may be wearing ill-fitting safety equipment that is designed for fully grown people. Heavy equipment also plays a significant role in jobsite fatalities (tractor or forklift rollovers, for example).

Unsafe at Any Age?

In rural areas across the nation, agricultural operations large and small are willing to employ youths to perform menial labor, such as corn de-tassling or harvesting produce. Even small family farms are susceptible to tragic accidents, as in the case of an Iowa boy in 2004 who was driving a four-wheel ATV, which flipped over and crushed him as he drove along a slight embankment; he was eight years old.

Electrocution is another common method by which workers of all ages are seriously injured or killed, and not because a teenager was working on anything electrical, but because he came in contact with a power line by way of scaffolding or another metal object. While states are loathe to heavily regulate the construction industry, a major player in any economy, more and more are putting age restrictions in place on jobsites, hoping to stem the tide of injuries afflicting minors.