What is Hazard Pay and When Do Employees Receive It?
Hazard pay is a form of extra compensation given to employees for performing hazardous duties or work involving physical labor. Employees whose roles can cause them to have extreme physical discomfort, or emotional or physiological distress that can't be minimized or solved with protective devices, may be eligible for hazard pay due to the hardship of their job.
When Hazard Compensation Is Paid
Hazard pay compensates an employee for doing a duty that could result in serious injury or death.
Generally, this payment is in addition to regular hourly wages or salary. There is no law requiring employers to pay hazard pay: both the amount of the pay and the conditions under which it is paid are determined by the employer.
Typically, an employee will only receive hazardous duty pay for the hours worked in hazardous conditions. (This means if you work an eight-hour shift, and four hours are spent in an air-conditioned office, while four-hours are spent doing constructions in 100-degree heat, only the hours worked in the high-heat conditions will be at the hazardous pay rate.)
What makes conditions hazardous? There is no legal definition, but some common examples include:
- war zones
- hostile locations
- healthcare facilities
- dangerous or extreme weather
An employee preparing to commence hazardous duty should be briefed on the type of work they will be doing, the risks involved, and the rate of pay before committing to the duty.
Accidental injury or death could leave the employer responsible if it is found that the employee was not briefed or prepared for extra compensation on account of the hazardous conditions.
What Kinds of Job Can Be Considered Hazardous?
You might be surprised by some of the most dangerous civilian jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled a list of the top 10 occupations with the highest fatality rates:
- Logging workers: The dangers arise from both the machinery involved as well as the work conditions.
- Fishers: Nearly all roles involving forms of transportation fare poorly in terms of safety; fishers need to deal with heavy-duty equipment and challenging weather conditions, as well as operating a boat.
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: Being an pilot might top the list of kids' dream jobs, but like all jobs involving transportation, fatalities are disproportionately high.
- Roofers: Ladders and the height of the work combine to make this a potentially treacherous role. Small wonder that roofers — along with iron workers and electricians, other jobs with high fatality rates — are some of the best paid constructions jobs.
- Refuse collectors: Collecting the garbage means driving or riding on a garbage truck. That's risky enough, but then there's the heavy machinery aspect as well to heighten the potential danger.
- Farmers, ranchers, and agriculture managers: Heavy machinery adds to the danger of the centuries-old job (and long hours, which mean potentially tired operators of that heavy machinery, heighten the risks). Depending on where their land is located, farmers and ranchers are one of the blue collar jobs that pay more than $100,000 a year.
- Structural iron and steel workers: Installing beams can be dangerous work.
- Truck drivers and sales workers: Roadway incidents account for 23 percent of fatal occupational injuries annually.
- Electrical power-line installers and repairers: Electrocution and falls are the biggest risks in these roles.
- First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers: With its heavy machinery, and potentially tough conditions, construction work is dangerous both for the people doing the task, and for on-site supervisors.
This list excludes non-civilians, include people serving in the military, police officers, and firemen.
For more information on hazard pay, visit the Department of Labor website: Hazard Pay.