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What you need to know about hazard pay

Posted by Neha De

May 4, 2022

The U.S. Department of Labor defines hazard pay as “additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship. Work duty that causes extreme physical discomfort and distress which is not adequately alleviated by protective devices is deemed to impose a physical hardship.” 

Typically, hazard pay is paid in addition to regular salary or hourly wages, typically in the form of an increased hourly pay rate. While similar to overtime, here workers are paid a higher rate for working extra hours. In the case of hazard pay, staff members are paid more by their employer for working at a hazardous job. 

While there is no legal definition for what makes work conditions hazardous, some basic examples of hazardous conditions are mines, war zones, healthcare facilities, construction sites, hostile locations and dangerous or extreme weather, among others. 

Examples of jobs having hazardous working conditions 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following 10 occupations have seen the highest fatality rates. Since the conditions can be dangerous, employees who work these may receive hazard pay.

1. Logging workers:

For these workers, the danger comes from both the work conditions and the machinery involved.

2. Flight engineers and aircraft pilots:

All jobs that involve transportation have disproportionately high rates of fatalities.

3. Fishers:

Fishers are required to handle heavy-duty equipment in challenging weather conditions such as operating a boat, which makes their jobs quite difficult

4. Refuse collectors:

Collecting garbage involves riding on or driving a garbage truck. While this is risky in itself, there is the additional aspect of handling heavy machinery, which heightens the potential danger.

5. Roofers:

As a result of ladders and the height of the work, this is a potentially hazardous job. Apart from roofers, electricians and ironworkers are other construction jobs with high fatality rates.

6. Structural steel and iron workers:

Beam installation is a potentially dangerous task. Since most of this work happens at high heights, it adds to the danger.

7. Truck drivers and sales workers:

Every year, 20% of all occupational deaths are caused by transportation-related incidents.

8. First-line supervisors of extraction and construction trades workers:

With potentially tough conditions and the involvement of heavy machinery, construction workers as well as on-site supervisors are equally prone to danger.

9. First-line supervisors of landscape and lawn care workers:

The combination of machinery and chemicals can be dangerous for landscape and grounds crews. 

10. Ranchers, farmers and agriculture managers:

Heavy machinery increases the danger of these jobs. In addition to the long hours, people could be fatigued while operating heavy machinery, increasing the risk of accidents. 

This list does not include police officers, people serving in the military and firefighters. These jobs can also be extremely hazardous, and those employees may also be eligible to receive hazard pay. 

Is hazard pay mandatory?

“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not address the subject of hazard pay, except to require that it be included as part of a federal employee's regular rate of pay in computing the employee's overtime pay,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

However, hazard pay may be a mandate for certain government workers. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s guidelines for COVID-19, “A 25 percent hazard pay differential is authorized for employee exposure to ‘virulent biologicals,’ which is defined as ‘work with or in close proximity to...[m]aterials of micro-organic nature which when introduced into the body are likely to cause serious disease or fatality and for which protective devices do not afford complete protection.”

That said, if a business wants to be sure whether they are required to offer hazard pay to their employees, the best thing to do is visit their state or local government’s website and search for hazard pay laws that apply to them, including details on tax implications and benefits. 

Additionally, employers can also check out the American Action Forum for state and local hazard pay guidelines.

The bottom line is, even though hazard pay is not compulsory in most cases, organizations can offer this perk to motivate staff members to perform dangerous job duties.


Neha De
Neha De

Neha De is a writer and editor with more than 13 years of experience. She has worked on a variety of genres and platforms, including books, magazine articles, blog posts and website copy. She is passionate about producing clear and concise content that is engaging and informative. In her spare time, Neha enjoys dancing, running and spending time with her family.

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