8 most stressful jobs on the planet

"What, me - stressed? Nah, I'm just a little amped up about the brain surgery I have to perform in an hour."

If you have a pulse and a job, chances are you feel some amount of tension in the average workday. But does it compare to the stress of being a surgeon or commercial airline pilot?

A recent msnbc article shares the most stressful jobs, as compiled by, a job search website. More than 20 stress factors were considered, the biggest being deadlines, life or death situations and physical demands.

Here are the top 8 high-pressure positions:

1) Surgeon - Sure, the average salary is high ($309,118) but with the hefty paycheck comes extreme physical demands, critical deadlines and almost daily life or death situations. Plus, surgeons work on their feet for long hours and have a wide circle of people depending upon them.

2) Commercial airline pilot - Think back to Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger safely landing a 162,000-pound plane loaded with passengers into the Hudson River and you get a pretty good idea of why this position comes in second. Pilots have only one chance to properly take off and land each flight, and the lives of often more than 100 passengers hang in the balance.

3) Photojournalist - Whether they're covering wars, riots, four-alarm fires or soccer matches, photojournalists must get to the scene of an event quickly and make the perfect shot - often times risking their lives to do so.

4) Advertising account executive - Ad execs made the list largely due to the tough economy right now. With the media industry going through such upheaval - and execs depending on selling ad space to make sales commissions - you have a situation fraught with anxiety.

5) Real estate agent - The housing boom has gone bust, leaving agents scrambling for business. If they haven't joined the record number of agents abandoning the profession, many agents are feeling the crunch of the housing crisis.

6) General practice physician - Like their peers that topped the list, these medical practitioners face life or death decisions on a regular basis and put in long, demanding hours. And declining insurance reimbursements have left many physicians financially broken, even bankrupt.

7) Newspaper reporter - First, there's the massive layoffs in the newspaper industry. Then, there are the constant pressures of working under deadline and competing for stories. Put it all together and you have a work setting that would rattle even the most seasoned professional.

8) Physician's assistant - As general practice physicians sign up more patients, physician assistants are seeing their workload (and stress levels) mount. And without the higher salary that physicians command.

So if your profession made the list, you haven't learned anything new here. Hopefully, the job's perks outweigh the sweaty palms, racing heart and pit in your stomach you endure on a daily basis. After all, when it comes to stress in the workplace, one person's anxiety is another person's adrenaline rush.

And if your job didn't make the cut, aren't you thankful you've chosen such a serene, satisfying, stress-free livelihood?

Needed: Marketing manager who does computer programming, outbound sales and the tango

I’m used to seeing all the sobering statistics concerning our country’s dismal unemployment rate (just over 10 percent now!), but this headline caught my eye, “State’s jobless rate lets employers ask more from potential hires”.

While the article pertained to Washington, I’m sure the situation applies everywhere. It seems that the lingering recession and extreme competition for jobs have created a whole host of picky employers. The days of simple, streamlined job listings are over, as employers demand more and more from potential hires.

The Seattle Times article shares these examples:

=> Health-care clinic seeks someone who has both marketing experience and knowledge of computer-networking software

=> Environment nonprofit looking for someone to troubleshoot Apple computers, lift up to 50 pounds, work long hours and travel up to seven days at a stretch

=> Catering company needs an event planner who knows basic HTML and is willing to do “personal assistant tasks” for the owner

With companies having to stretch their resources thinner than ever and only cautiously bringing in new hires, this may be the new “normal.”

“Companies of all sizes are advertising such ‘hybrid jobs’ in an effort to save
money,” said Lanell Flint, Northwest vice president for Ajilon Professional
Staffing. "Everyone is trying to do more with less.”

The article states another possible reason for job listings demanding extensive (and sometimes random) job requirements and work experience: less time or money for on-the-job training. In lieu of training to fill in gaps or weaknesses for an otherwise qualified individual, employers want candidates who can “hit the ground running” on all counts.

This employment pickiness often makes for a longer, more drawn-out hiring process, too. It’s not unusual for employers to leave positions open for longer or bring people in for multiple interviews.

What about your company? How has your hiring process changed during the continuing recession? Have you revisited your job descriptions and what you need from new hires? And with more candidates to choose from, are you getting pickier with your selections?


Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?

My mother used to tell me, “You have two ears, but only one mouth. It’s more important to listen than it is to talk.”

But with all the chatter out there, it seems that most of us are enamored by the sound of our own voices – and are more comfortable running our mouths than opening our ears.

That can be a real problem – not only in our personal relationships, but in the workplace, too. Listening – really listening – takes considerable effort. Most people engaged in a conversation are more interested in what they will say next than what the other person is sharing.

But as Michael Nichols, author of The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships, explains, the essence of listening, "…can be achieved only by suspending our preoccupation with ourselves and entering into the experience of the other person."

So how do we dial down the self-absorbed chatter and listen more intently to the other person in the conversation? In her article, Hear This: Unleash the Power of Listening and Improve Business Relationships, Priscilla Kohl suggests the following tactics:

1) Give your undivided attention to the speaker. If you’re speaking face-to-face, maintain good eye contact. Even if you’re talking on the phone, stop everything that you are doing. Many of us have multi-tasking tendencies. However, our focus should be on the person talking, thus reassuring them that they have our full attention.

2) Be sensitive of the speaker. If they appear nervous, ignore the body language and instead pick up on the message and the words being expressed. Also, by helping speakers relax, you will find them growing more at ease with you. Normally, relaxed speakers convey more authentic or candid thoughts and views.

3) Avoid interrupting, giving advice or steering the conversation away from the point(s) being made by the speaker. A listener can make comments or express body language without interrupting the speaker. For instance, a good listener can be responsive by sharing an appropriate smile or a word or two that do not interrupt the flow. Simple body language techniques such as shaking one’s head or raising an eyebrow will connect the listener with a speaker. Simple words like "yes" and "go on" let the speaker know you are engaged.

4) Listen very closely to points that you may disagree with. A poor listener often has their mind made up and shows it. Instead, be open and take a na├»ve approach to what the speaker is saying. Acknowledge what they are trying to get across. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with or condone what is being said; it just means that you’re not constantly thinking about your next rebuttal.

5) Mentally collect and organize the speaker’s main points. Try not to think about something else while another person is talking. Also by mentally processing what the speaker is saying, a good listener avoids the trap of immediately reacting before it’s their turn to speak.

OSHA reveals its "top 10" safety violations for 2009

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shared the 10 most frequent workplace safety violations for 2009 in a presentation to the National Safety Council last week. Unfortunately, these types of safety missteps have increased almost 30 percent from the previous year.

“The sheer number of violations gives us new resolve in raising awareness about
the importance of having sound safety procedures,” says National Safety
Council President and CEO Janet Froetscher.

Here are the 10 safety issues that made the list:

1. Scaffolding – 9,093 violations
Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

2. Fall Protection – 6,771 violations
Fall protection is required for any work at a height of four feet or more in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.

3. Hazard Communication – 6,378 violations
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey this hazard information to employees and customers.

4. Respiratory Protection – 3,803 violations
Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays (all of which may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death).

5. Lockout-Tag out – 3,321 violations
"Lockout-Tag out” refers to specific procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

6. Electrical (Wiring) – 3,079 violations
Working with electricity poses certain hazards for engineers, electricians and other professionals who work with electricity directly, as well as office workers and sales people who work with electricity indirectly.

7. Ladders – 3,072 violations
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities.

8. Powered Industrial Trucks – 2,993 violations
Employees may be injured when powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, are inadvertently driven off loading docks, they fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

9. Electrical – 2,556 violations
Again, working with electricity poses certain hazards for engineers, electricians and other professionals who work with electricity directly, as well as office workers and sales people who work with electricity indirectly.

10. Machine Guarding – 2,364 violations
Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury to the operator of the equipment (or through accidental contact) must be safeguarded to eliminate hazards.

How safe and sound is your workplace? More important, what are you doing to build awareness and train your employees on proper safety procedures? G.Neil makes safety training and OSHA compliance easy and affordable. From forklift training videos to eye-catching safety posters, our full selection of products can help you conduct the type of OSHA training that prevents these top 10 safety offenses.

"Keep your hands off my egg salad sandwich!"

It never fails. Every six months or so, HR is forced to send an e-mail that reads something like this:

"It has been brought to our attention that food is missing from the refrigerators in the Lunch Rooms. It is our hope that this is an isolated situation and will cease from occurring. Please be sure the food you take from the refrigerator is yours, and if it does not belong to you, that you not take it."

Every time I receive this e-mail, I am appalled that 1) coworkers would swipe each other's food and 2) HR has to remind a group of adults not to swipe each other's food.

What possesses someone to sneak into a lunch room, rummage through the refrigerator (looking over his or her shoulder the entire time) and then snatch another person's lunch? "Hmmmm, what am I craving today? Let's see ... an apple, a PB&J sandwich, a bag of corn chips ... ooooh, what's this, leftover lasagna? Yummy!"

I know times are tough and we're watching every penny, but c’mon. I would think most of us holding down full-time jobs can afford to pack lunches or go out for a midday meal. And if it's a case of the munchies, surely you have a few quarters laying around for a sweet or salty snack from the vending machines (which are located right next to the refrigerators reserved for food that's already spoken for!).

And while I've never been the victim of a ham-sandwich heist, I know how upset I'd be to find my lunch missing. Not only would I be irritated because I'm starving, my blood sugar is plummeting and my lunch is nowhere to be found, but I'd also seriously question the judgment of my coworkers. If someone is capable of lifting a lunch, what else is considered "fair game"? Do I have to worry about Bill or Sandra visiting my office and "borrowing" a pen, a few paper clips or the frames around my family photos? Shouldn't we be able to assume "what's mine is mine" and that someone's workspace is not an office supply closet - and a communal refrigerator is not an open buffet?

Again, I don't know what's worse: someone pilfering another’s chicken panini - or HR reminding employees to keep their hands off my brown bag!

Texas oil refinery receives record-breaking OSHA fine

A mind-boggling $87,430,000. That's the amount the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing in penalties to BP Products North America, Inc. The reason? Failure to correct potential hazards to its employees.

BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery experienced a massive, fatal explosion in March 2005 that killed 15 workers and injured 170. In September of that year, BP entered into a
settlement agreement, committing to corrective actions that would eliminate the types of hazards responsible for the 2005 incident. Yet, after a recent six-month inspection,
OSHA is not satisfied with BP's efforts and has now issued this record-breaking $87 million fine.

"When BP signed the OSHA settlement from the March 2005 explosion, it agreed to
take comprehensive action to protect employees. Instead of living up to that
commitment, BP has allowed hundreds of potential hazards to continue
unabated," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

Solis also shared this stern message regarding BP's safety oversights:

"Fifteen people lost their lives as a result of the 2005 tragedy, and 170 others
were injured. An $87 million fine won't restore those lives, but we can't let
this happen again. Workplace safety is more than a slogan. It's the law. The
U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate the preventable exposure of workers
to hazardous conditions."


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