Everyone’s job involves at least a little bit of peril. But for most of us, the worst it gets is getting ink on your hands from changing the copier cartridge or spilling your coffee on clean pants. Oil rig workers, miners and seamen–now those folks face daily dangers. They simply accept a level of on-the-job intensity most people couldn’t cope with.
Given that they habitually cope with sub-zero temperatures, tons of slime and explosions just waiting to happen, what does it take to push their job experience to “I need to get out of here” level? You’re about to find out, and it’s intense. Read on to learn how these people with ugly jobs called it quits just in time to live to tell the tale:
35. That Time I Held My Breath For At Least Two Minutes At Work
I was a trainee on a north sea drilling rig, a mud engineer. We were drilling and hit a pocket of H2S gas (explosive and highly toxic) we had gas detectors which went off the scale. The ‘pit room’ (big tanks of mud with huge pumps to pump mud down the well) was evacuated but the mud pumps were still running. Somebody had to go back in, open the emergency air ventilation and shut down the pumps.
I drew the short straw and put the respirator on (very old and possibly messed up) and wandered in.
That was the longest 2 minutes of my life.
I don’t work offshore anymore.
34. The Steel Girder Falling Didn’t End Me So I Waited Until My Dad Crushed My Thumb To Quit
I worked in a shipyard off the Great Lakes on tankers and cargo ships. I’ll preface this by saying I loved and miss this job every day. I work in an office now and it’s boring.
One time I was working in a bilge tank with another guy. We repaired a section of a bulkhead (cut out and replaced a section with new steel). We had the old 4×4 piece of steel tied up, made sure our knot was secure. The other guy went up top to pull it up and I stayed down on the catwalk to help the load clear the ladder. Halfway up the rope snapped and the steel fell about an inch from me onto the catwalk, barely missing my head. I look up at the guy for confirmation that I almost died. I pick up the piece to tie up and try again, and the catwalk collapses under the combined weight. Just another day though.
My last day there I was helping my dad and a couple other guys move staging. I’m leaning over a hole between decks reaching for a plank (these are 100lb planks of wood, two guys below two guys up top). Just as I get my hand on the plank both guys below heave upwards, crushing my hand between it and the deck. I instantly knew my thumb was broken and walked out immediately never to return. Yeah, my dad broke my thumb.
33. The Boss Who Broke Him When Fire And Capsizing Couldn’t
I worked at sea on fishing boats for a number of years as a biologist. One boat sank and I had to be rescued by the coast guard. A couple of boats caught on fire. I was in storms that I thought would end me. But the reason I quit was because my boss was an idiot.
32. Also, I’ve Been Terrified Of Pelicans Ever Since
I worked offshore for a couple of years and loved it. Long hard hours for 2 weeks, and then a 2 week vacation. I was making great money, and bringing home tons of fish. The problem became getting to and from the platform. I was on the edge of blue water so, we took a 30 min helicopter ride each way.
I am half asleep at 5am sitting in the seat behind the pilot. This means I am facing backwards looking at 3 other passengers. All of a sudden I am weightless and the guy across from me is crossing himself. Oh no, I look over my shoulder out the windscreen and all I see is water. At the last moment we pull up and reduce our speed, but have a “soft” landing on the water. Pilot says he had a pelican coming right at us. Just the week before I had heard about a pelican coming through the windscreen and ending the pilot instantly, then down went the chopper. We came pretty close to that apparently. A boat came out and picked us up to be brought back onshore. I went out 2 more times and could not bring myself to ride that copter anymore. I don’t want to deal with this anymore, I am out of here.
31. Inches Away From Impalement
I work at a shipyard that fixes and dismantles ships and boats, big ones mind you. On one of the cut ups they cut out a lot of pipes from a lube oil tank so I could crawl in and wash out all the oil. They would use a torch to cut through the boats. So I’m cleaning out the pockets no problem work as usual, pretty easy tank to be honest. Until I slip because there are no pipes to stand on (I’m like 10 feet up in the tank mind you) and wouldn’t you know it, they left a jagged pipe right where I was suppose to land. Thankfully caught myself before impaling myself. I got out of that tank and hit the showers. I still work at the shipyard but I changed shops so I don’t clean tanks anymore.
30. When The Alarm Won’t Stop (And It’s Not The Kind With Snooze Buttons)
I don’t usually work in extreme situations, I’m a directional drill operator for underground utilities, so it’s fairly safe, but there was one job I had in Virginia for an electric conduit for a new launch pad for Wallops Island, where we had a very small amount of time to get a lot done.
There was a week long period where there was an intense thunderstorm every day, and we delayed the job as much as we could until we decided to say oh well and work through it because we were falling so far behind.
Directional drills have an alarm for when the machine is electrified by, say, drilling through a power line.
My strike alarm began to constantly chime from lightning crashes. I silently got in the truck and left.
29. Even The Canary Wanted To Call It Quits
Worked at a deep shaft coal mine and spent a few years as a production supervisor. We were moving equipment out of an old part of the mine that we were about to seal up. The roof was sagging and the floor was heaving. Seemed like every time we went for a return trip, the roof was closer and closer to the top of the hauler. Finally one of my employees used his right of refusal and said this is not safe, I’m not doing, and I was like, good enough for me, let’s get out of here!
28. It Was An ‘I’m Done’ Moment Involving Marlin Manure But You Can’t Quit A Family
I worked on a fisherman’s boat with my dad when I was a lad.
It sucked and the smell was horrible but I definitely felt cool/manly being a boy of the sea.
Worst moment was when we pulled a big marlin out and it started pooping everywhere and my dad made me clean it up.
27. If You Can’t Stand The Boss, Get Out Of His Kitchen (This Is A Metaphor)
I worked in a plant making quicklime for the steel industry. Huge 1800 degree kilns and lime dust that burns your skin if it gets on you. I worked there for 3 months dealing with this stuff until one day in June, it was 90 degrees outside and over 140 inside the bag house we were working in. We stepped outside into the, what felt cool to us, 90 degree heat for a breather. Our foreman drove by in his air conditioned pickup and said “What are you guys doing standing around?”
Me and 3 other guys quit by the end of the week.
26. 18th Century Pirates Honestly Had It Easier
Worked for a company that sold and maintained equipment on large ships, not that extreme but my “I’m outta here” moment was when all the safety belts were in use and a fishing boat that was heading out needed a motor replaced in a radar immediately.
Had to climb a 10 meter mast with a 15-20kg motor in one hand while they were loading the boat ( boat swaying from side to side ), that was the day I quit.
25. $17 An Hour Is Not Enough For A Job That’s Mostly Waiting For A Mine To Cave In On You
Worked as a core drill helper on the Hagby in an underground mine. Only did it for 6 months though. Definitely not as dangerous as it used to be but you’re still underground and we were drilling through one of the faces (the end of the tunnel where you’re blasting through) so if something was going to collapse it’d probably be there. It wasn’t bad but it was pretty hard work for $17/hr plus a not so great bonus. Plus drillers are not the most nice or sane people. So it was working with a bad person in a bad place for small money. EVERYTHING is about safety and all of my supervisors were miners not drillers. So they had no idea what they were talking about. Half the stuff they do to make it ‘safer’ just ended up getting in the way and making it more dangerous.
24. Burned By The Burn Boss
Working as a wilderness firefighter helping a small crew with a prescribed burn, first ever for 5 of the 7. Standing on a point in central TX surrounded by 8 massive brush piles throwing 80 inch flames all around me with nothing but a backpack pump on (5 gallons) and the burn boss says, “Ok you got this? We’ve got to move on”. I didn’t last much longer.
23. That Night I Realized Momma Didn’t Raise Me To Move Snow Guns On Super Steep Hills
I used to work as a snow maker. So you are aware, snow makers are not the guys in the enclosed vehicles who groom the runs. I would be outside on a freezing mountain all night on a snowmobile. When you work as a snow maker, it is snowing every single night whether it’s coming from the sky or not. The average night involved being soaking wet, on like a 45° pitch, at 4am, in weather that was at a maximum 25°f, shovelling. I did a lot of shovelling.
We had to move some snow cannons. Normally this is pretty easy. Just attach it on the back of your sled and tow it to wherever you want it. The hill these cannons were on was too steep for snowmobiles. It’s a hill that they regularly hold world class ski races on, with world famous skiers who’s names you might recognize from other events such as the Olympics. Anyway after sliding on my butt with my heels dug in while holding the snow cannon in front of me, I realized that I didn’t want to do that type of stuff anymore.
22. My 5-Year Plan To Still Be Alive Did Not Mesh With Alloy Foundry Employment
I work fixing all the mobile equipment in an alloy foundry. We had a super bad rain storm one night. to the point that we had water not only falling from cracks in the roof but also water coming up from the cracks in the floor. Within 30 minutes we had over 4 inches of water surround the furnaces. If you don’t know, molten metals and water do not mix very well.
The bad part was the supervisor kept telling everyone to keep moving molten metal and to keep adding metal to the furnaces. If at any point that motel metal hits the water it goes boom real quick. I ended up walking out. Got a call the next day begging me to come back
21. A Net Total Of Three Good Reasons To Quit
I worked as a commercial fisherman with my cousin. Dragging out the net was the scariest part. Between the fear of getting my hands crushed in the net or falling overboard, every time my cousin would tell me to do something as this was going on… I just froze. Between this, getting two hours of sleep a night, having to captain the boat at night (there’s legit NO visibility on a boat) and my cousin yelling at me anytime I did something wrong (I barely knew him, and never felt much of a connection since he was adopted, but had to take this job because it was a seriously bad situation.) So I was like, I’m outta here. Except I’m on a boat, so you can’t be.
20. Do You Really Need A Place To Stand To Inspect Offshore Rigs?
Used to work offshore… but I’m the exception. They just sent me out to fix computer or controller issues.
Was sitting in the living quarters, just relaxing & a guy comes in, bloody & pale faced. He was out doing inspections & the floor under him gave out – just a chunk of steel grid flooring, gone. He managed to grab the grate & climb to safety, but cut himself up in the process pretty badly.
I changed jobs about 5-6 months after that.
19. When The Diving Bell Takes A Deadly Toll
My Dad laid cable and installed the pipes from rigs on the North Sea. One of the crews went down to the bottom, ridiculously deep in a diving bell. The gigantic metal equivalent of putting an upside down glass in a sink of water.
He would always say the worst things would happen if the bell tilted in anyway over a certain degree of water. Well it happened with three men inside. The bell was crushed to a very small size (he would always say Coke can but I think he just meant ‘like’ a Coke can) within a fraction of a second.
He left soon after.
18. What Makes It Worse Is Doing The Work Of Three Or Four
Directional driller on a BP land rig in Wamsutter, WY, commonly 10 to -30 degrees with constant 30-40mph winds, but that wasn’t the bad part. I worked 25-40 hour shifts with 2-4 hours of sleep in between, 7 days a week for 35-40 days at a time and 1 day off between due to driving time home. 26-well pads and they had me single manning all the surface holes because they couldn’t hire enough people.
Decided then and there I’d save up money, quit, and never work for anyone except myself ever again. Health related issues due to overwork, lack of sleep, and stress ended up forcing me to quit a bit early, but I still think nope, never going back again.
17. The Job Description Of ‘Hagfish Catcher’ Might Have Turned Other Applicants Away
I’m 22 and I worked on a commercial fishing boat catching hagfish. The boat was only 33ft, which is small for any fishing boat, and it would violently rock when we hit swells.
So one day we were out and there was a storm rolling in which meant pretty choppy waters.
Well we hit a big wave just a few buckets in and it knocked me around enough to stumble over the buckets and fall overboard. After coming up for air and looking around to find the boat I start yelling, waving my hands, splashing around, trying anything to get the captain’s attention. Nothing’s working. I’ve always been calm under pressure so I just took a breath and tried to slow my heart rate and not panic as I’m watching my boat slowly motor away.
I realize that in a few minutes my captains going to wonder why he can’t see any buckets being thrown over and he’s going to come out to yell at me and realize I’m gone. And sure enough, maybe 100 yards away, I see his head pop out and quickly go inside and a few seconds later the boat starts to turn around. He picks me up and tells me we’re going home and I just sat inside on the metal box that covers the engine and got warm till we got back.
I told him that I needed like a week off to kind of recover from this experience. and a few days later I called him and said I don’t think I was coming back. He completely understood because unlike a LOT of people in the fishing industry he cared more about my future than his.
16. How My Decision To Leave The Mine Developed An Accident At A Time
I worked at a copper mine for about 18 months. In that time we had one fatality, one guy nearly ended and disabled for the rest of his life, one guy lost a finger, and numerous minor injuries. The deal breaker occurred as one day I was watching an old guy slowly drag his way to the parking lot. He was filthy, stoop shouldered, and barely lifted his feet to walk. He had likely worked there his entire adult life and it had broken him.
I didn’t want that to be me. I was in college three months later.
15. When The Brakes Won’t Work Because It Turns Out You Don’t Have Any
I briefly worked at a coal mine in Appalachia that was privately owned and basically operating check to check. We had a 60’s era boom truck with a 460/4 speed that was basically hidden on the grounds looking like it was abandoned. We had a Cat 988a loader that was a tremendous piece of garbage and the motor had scattered for the millionth time so I was sent to grab the boom truck so we could swap engines. I hopped in it, fired it up, and headed down the haul road towards the fines pile and the damned brakes were gone. It was bouncing and picking up speed even though I had it in granny so I just slammed the trans into reverse. I got the truck stopped, but not before I scared the poop out of myself. From that day on, the trans had reverse and second cause I must’ve bent the linkage. The mine owner was convinced some kids were joy riding in the truck and I never admitted what I had done.
I got out of there as soon as I could.
14. The Furnace Blast Got Your Desk And Your Parking Spot, So Leave Before It Gets You
I used to work in the Steel industry. Once had a blast furnace explode and pepper my office with glowing hot iron pellets. Had I worked that night (worked the previous midnight) I would have been at my desk that caught on fire from molten iron ore. My parking space was covered as well so my car would have been toast even if I had lived. I decided to look for another field after that and then really did when the guy down the hallway from me was sucked into a conveyor and passed away a few weeks later.
13. That Time The New Guy Almost Left Us Newly Deceased
Oilfield in Alberta, working in fracturing. We started hiring a lot of individuals that had no previous exposure to manual labour or the dangers of oilfield. A new supervisor asked a new hand to remove a nitrogen treating line from the wellhead, without ensuring the pressure was bled off. The hand started hitting the line, which had 28MPa of compressed nitrogen gas in it. Had this let go, anyone within distance of the treating line would be deceased or beaten to a pulp from the energy of the nitrogen release. At the time, I had a child on the way so it was my screw it I’m out moment. I transferred to a different service line.
12. An Education In Management Politics And All It Cost Me Were Entrance And Exit Burns
During my apprenticeship (electrician) I had a supervisor that would regularly arrive inebriated and still on a tear from the night before “I haven’t slept so you’ve no excuse to be tired because you had night classes” – like whaaat? Anyway, warning signs were there so, skip ahead 6 months I’m wiring a 100 kilo watt package AC and he thinks it will be funny to throw the breaker and watch my ratchet cutters explode (I later found out he’s done this before) only problem was I’d already cut stripped and lugged said cable, took 415 across one arm (entry and exit burns). That was my last job with that clown. Management knew but hey they’ve got a soft spot for him
11. It Would Be Different If You Were Climbing Everest For Fun
Used to climb cell towers.
I’m outta here moment was when it hit -40 degrees
10. Big Waves Aren’t The Only Way Boating Work Can Get You Killed
My father-in-law was a boat captain and would run charters. He mostly worked for fishermen, sightseers, etc. One client became a regular, taking evening trips to remote places and meeting other boats for “business.” Got an anonymous call in the middle of the night warning him that if he cared about his family and his life, he wouldn’t work with that client. Quit the business entirely after that.
9. I’d Like To Be Able To Breathe Through My Nose Even After I Retire
I worked at a magnesium mine and had a piece of metal banding break and almost cut my nose clean off. Had to go to the ER which was 2 hours away holding my nose on my face which was later sewn back on. Won’t work a job like that ever again.
8. Chopped Off Fingers Are So Not ‘Cool”
Oilfield MWD/LWD Engineer here.
Saw a motor man chop a finger off on a mud bucket (these flaps that slap over the connection of pipe you’re breaking to prevent everyone from being covered in mud)…. he didn’t report it, got the floor and doghouse covered in blood… and didn’t do anything about it…. later pulled his gray finger out of his pocket to “show me something cool” because it had changed color……
A few hours later, relief came…… THE NEXT CREW HAD THEIR MOTOR MAN CHOP OF THE SAME EXACT FINGER ON HIS OWN SAME EXACT HAND ON THE SAME EXACT MUD BUCKET. It’s like that wasn’t part of his handover or anything….
Neither reported it (they wanted their 1k yearly safety bonus too much!)
And in that moment……. I don’t care, I’m out.
7. Goodbye For Now
20ft waves with 50+ mph winds. Captain refused to lay up so we had to work under these terrible conditions for 2 days out of 7 day trip. This was late March of last year when it was still cold, to top it off it rained so hard the last day. Never wanted to be home so bad, entire time I told myself I was gonna quit as soon as I got back on land. Was back out in the ocean the following week.
6. The Wake Up Call Came When A Recycling Machine Swallowed My Co-Worker
I used to work in a recycling plant. People recycle things they shouldn’t recycle. Like used hypodermic needles and dirty diapers. I had to sort that stuff by hand.
One day I was standing outside between some giant shipping can sized dumpsters, literally waist deep in overflowing trash, watching a guy take a vent cover off a machine full of trash and disappear up into it, only to come out black with sludge.
At that moment it hit me and I said “I don’t care, I don’t think I’ll come back in tomorrow”. That job was not worth $8/hour
5. When Your Clothes Get Bleached But You Never Took Them Off
I got a job in a chemical packing plant as a summer job in high school. My first day I got to see everyone’s arms breaking out from the irritants, but apparently this happened every day. Then at lunch, the team went out and quaffed many, many beverages before returning to the warehouse where one of those inebriated idiots lifted me around the warehouse on the fork of the forklift so I could grab inputs off top shelves. I survived that. Then the next day I woke up for work only discover my clothes had been bleached by chlorine that I guess was wafting around the place. My first day was my last day.
4. Up To One Minute Before The Explosion, I Didn’t Even Know I Wanted A Desk Job
Rig I was on in the mountains of PA exploded. One guy passed away and my dad and I hauled his body out of the woods in our truck. Dad had grafts on both hands and right arm. We both had significant hearing loss.
Desks don’t explode!
3. Electrical Tape After The Fact Doesn’t Do A Darn Bit Of Good
I work on research vessels as an engineer, and I got hit with 480 volts because 1. I didn’t check what I was working on and 2. My chief engineer liked to keep secrets about where breakers were. He saw me get hit, I had a minor meltdown, and he took the tool from my hand, wrapped it in electrical tape, and handed it back to me. I looked at him, dropped the tool, and went out on deck to chill out for a minute. I pretty much refuse to go back to that boat, even if I need the money.
2. Only Needed One Industrial Accident To Know What I Needed To Do
Offshore Oil Rig Worker….worked as a mud logger right out of school in the GOM. 6 hour drive to the helipad. Helicopter flights to rigs. 12 hr shifts 365 days a year.
The “I’m out” moment was when I watched my first industrial accident. I worked on a shack and went back and forth to the mud room where stacks of shale shakers and de-sanders worked to salvage the drilling fluid for re-injection downhole. Poor kid working the mud room slipped and got sucked into a rotary auger that collected rock and sand. He lived but had multiple compound fractures of everything from the humerus down to both his arms. This was around 02:00 and he was in the med bay waiting for the coast guard to come get him. For 12 hours. I’m out.
1. Happy To Learn From Others’ Mistakes
For a short time I worked at a ship yard in Southern California. One of the favorite pastimes, of the yard birds, is to tell you about people that died in different areas around you. After about the 100th, “Crane dropped a plate on a guy right there where your standing” type story, I called it quits.