What Is Hazard Pay? (With Examples)

By Caitlin Mazur
Oct. 18, 2022
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If you work a particularly dangerous job, you may be eligible for hazard pay. Any paid work that causes extreme physical stress that cannot be fixed with an external device will be a physical hardship for the person performing the action.

To that end, if you are performing a physically distressing job, you should be eligible for extra pay that compensates you fairly for the job performed.

This can be particularly appealing to individuals who may be in financial distress or aren’t deterred by physically stressful or hazardous labor but still want to make decent pay.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hazard pay is additional compensation for performing hazardous work that involves genuine physical hardship to your body.

  • Hazard pay is not mandatory but is often apart of the compensation package given to employees.

  • The type of hazard pay that you receive depends on your employer.

What Is Hazard Pay (With Examples)

What Is Hazard Pay?

Hazard pay is paid to individuals looking to be compensated for performing hazardous duties or any job involving extreme physical hardship or danger.

  1. Employers must choose to provide hazard pay to their employees, especially if they are not fully equipped to protect their employees in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, there is no law in the United States that requires employers to pay their employee’s hazard pay.

  2. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require businesses to offer their employees any type of hazard pay, no matter the job or responsibilities.

  3. There are also no statewide laws that forcing private sector employers to provide hazard pay, either. Both the amount of pay and the conditions will be set by the individual employer.

  4. There are some instances where hazard pay is mandatory, such as federal statutes requiring hazard pay for federal employees who perform hazardous work.

  5. There are also localities, such as Birmingham City, Alabama, where hazard pay is mandated for local government employees. This is more the exception than the rule, so be sure to understand your local laws before accepting a job.

If you know you are taking a job that requires physical hardship, be sure you ask about hazard pay during your interview process and before you sign anything to take the job. Don’t expect hazard pay if it’s not mentioned, even if you are working a dangerous job.

It’s essential to understand the company’s expectations and compensation for individuals performing dangerous work.

How Hazard Pay Works

  • Employees who receive hazard pay will also earn a general wage. Hazard pay is an addition to your regular hourly wages or salary, typically in the form of an hourly rate.

  • You may also receive hazard pay in a percentage. For example, a 15% premium from your employer when the employee works under hazardous conditions. So, for the period where they were performing a hazardous job, they would get 15% more pay.

  • Hazard pay may impact overtime pay. Especially if an employee is eligible for both. If the individual is working both overtime and hazard pay, they will receive the paid overtime on their base salary, plus the 15% premium on top of it.

  • Some organizations may choose to pay their employees a flat fee for hazard pay. For example, individuals might receive $500 extra per month for hazard pay.

  • Only receive hazard pay while in hazardous area. Depending on the type of job you have, employees are generally only eligible for hazard pay for the specific amount of time they spent in a hazardous location.

    For example, if someone is out in the field in a hostile location doing journalistic work but then returns to an office, they would only be paid hazard pay for their time in a hostile location.

How to Get Hazard Pay

Because hazard pay is not a legal obligation from any employer, it’s typically a benefit negotiated between the workers and the employers. However, more often than not, hazard pay is offered to those employees who are part of a union. Typically the union will negotiate directly with the employer to get this benefit for their employers.

If you are preparing to do hazardous work, make sure you get all of the information necessary to make a smart choice. For example, your employer should provide you with the type of work you will be doing and the specific risks you might run into.

If an employee suffers accidental injury or death while on the job and has not been briefed on these specific details, the employer will be held liable and likely sued. It’s in the employer’s best interest to give their employees all of the details and information upfront before any work begins.

Again, it’s important to discuss these types of situations before accepting a job offer, especially in an industry or job where hazardous work is standard.

Definitions and Examples of Hazard Pay

Hazard pay is defined as additional employee compensation for employed individuals who work under hazardous conditions. Employees may also be eligible for hazard pay if they perform labor that can cause stress on their bodies.

Put simply, hazard pay is an incentive for people to perform dangerous work.

Hazard pay can be common in many industries that might come up against dangerous work conditions. Some of these industries include:

  • Healthcare. As demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare can be one of the most dangerous jobs out there, with many employees getting sick or even dying from the spread of deadly disease.

  • Mining. This job requires intense physical labor in harsh conditions with minimal to no sunlight for hours at a time. The job can also do a number on people’s bodies since they aren’t breathing in fresh oxygen for hours at a time.

  • Construction. Similar to mining, construction is dangerous in terms of the labor performed and stress on the body. It is also dangerous to operate heavy machinery, as is common in the construction industry.

  • War zones. It’s no secret that war zones are perilous places, and therefore, those who step foot into these areas deserve hazard pay for both physical and mental trauma.

  • Maintenance. Depending on the type of maintenance, this job can be extremely grueling and tiresome, with significant labor expectations.

  • Agriculture. This physically tiring job can take a toll on an individual’s body over time and is dangerous because of the types of machinery used.

  • Dangerous or extreme weather. Those who venture out into extreme weather like sailing through a dangerous storm, or chasing a tornado, can be eligible for hazard pay, as they are putting themselves at extreme risk to complete a task.

Types of Jobs With Hazard Pay

There are a wide variety of jobs with hazard pay, but here are the top more dangerous jobs with the highest fatality rates in the United States:

  1. Logging. Logging workers work long, laborious days, with dangers arising from both the machinery involved and the job’s physical demands. Workers are often expected to work the entire day cutting up trees, typically in high places where things move fast.

    With unstable or rough terrain coupled with inclement weather, logging can be one of the most dangerous jobs out there.

  2. Commercial fishing. Commercial fishing is very different from fishing for leisure. This is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, with fishermen being 42 times more likely to meet a fatality at work than workers in other fields.

    The environment is very dangerous in the middle of the ocean, and fishermen often aren’t trained properly. Without that proper training, individuals won’t know how to use lifesaving equipment or resources.

    It’s also a competitive market, with fishermen tapping into limited supplies or resources. By engaging in a race to catch fish, you’ll find that fishermen are more likely to venture out in dangerous conditions.

  3. Pilots. Pilots are highly trained individuals, but the statistics don’t lie – it’s one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. This job requires high vigilance, which can create high-stress environments that lead to other health concerns.

    Because of the time spent in high altitudes, pilots can face unique health issues such as deep vein thrombosis, dehydration, and high rates of skin cancer.

  4. Roofers. Working on roofs is a job that can make your stomach drop. A single fall can kill you, but that’s not the only hazard you’ll need to watch out for.

    Burns from volatile tar, exposed power lines, and injuries from falling debris are just a few risks these individuals might face on a daily basis.

  5. Trash collectors. Although this might seem like a fairly simple job, it’s actually relatively dangerous.

    Navigating broken materials like glass is a common cause of injury, as is moving trash bags that might contain things like broken glass or metal blades, resulting in serious injury. The truck is also a dangerous piece of equipment that you’ll need to be properly trained to use.

  6. Truck driver. Transportation incidents account for 40% of fatalities annually, making a truck driver’s job fairly dangerous. However, one of the most common injuries occurs due to fatigue.

    Most truck drivers drive for hours on end, and fatigue can cause a dangerous accident, not only for the driver but for others on the road.

  7. Farmers. Despite popular belief, farming is one of the most dangerous professions in the world.

    OSHA lists farm machinery and equipment, agricultural chemicals, grain bins, livestock management and handling, inclement weather including sun and heat, toxic gases, and wells as some of the most dangerous farming hazards associated with this job.

  8. Construction. The work of a construction worker is inherently dangerous, and individuals who choose this career path are typically exposed to hazardous work conditions on a daily basis. This could put them at risk for injury from falls, machinery, or structural collapses.

  9. Lawn care and landscaping. The most dangerous part of this work is being exposed to the outdoor elements. Landscapers face environmental hazards, such as long hours in the sun that could lead to heatstroke and lead to adverse long-term effects like skin cancer.

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Caitlin Mazur

Caitlin Mazur is a freelance writer at Zippia. Caitlin is passionate about helping Zippia’s readers land the jobs of their dreams by offering content that discusses job-seeking advice based on experience and extensive research. Caitlin holds a degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.

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