Underwater Welding: One of the Most Dangerous Jobs on Earth

These professionals risk drowning almost daily.
Loukia Papadopoulos

What do you do when an oil platform, underwater pipeline, dam, or even ship need repair? You call an underwater welder, one of the most dangerous professions in the world.

How dangerous the job depends on what kind of welding the professional is doing. Underwater welders who work inland have to achieve some pretty common tasks including salvage, rescue, maintenance, and repair of facilities such as docks. They usually work eight hours a day and are then free to go home.

However, for underwater welders working offshore, life is a lot more difficult. They may spend months at a time deployed at sea to oil platforms or large marine vessels working over 80 hours a week and risking their lives. Underwater welders descend into worksites that can go as low as 1,300 ft (400 m) exposing them to decompression sickness, hypothermia, or even drowning. 

What other risks do underwater welders face? What measures are taken to make their jobs safer? How do they deal with the constant exhaustion and worksite dangers? How lucrative and profitable is the profession? Is it enough to be worth all the risks? We explore all these questions and more in our video.

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