What Is Hazard Pay?

Definitions and Examples of Hazard Pay

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Hazard pay is the additional compensation paid to employees who are working under hazardous conditions or in extreme physical discomfort or distress.

Learn more about when hazard pay is given, who might receive it, and how it is paid.

What Is Hazard Pay?

Some employers provide additional pay for workers performing hazardous duties or for work involving physical hardship.

Employers may choose to give hazard pay to workers, especially if protective devices or gear don't fully mitigate the hazard. 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.

How Hazard Pay Works

Generally, hazard pay is paid in addition to regular hourly wages or a salary, typically in the form of an increased hourly pay rate. Hazard pay is often applied as a premium; for example, an employer might agree to pay a 10% premium when an employee works under hazardous conditions. For those hours, the employee would earn 10% more money than their normal hourly wage. Alternatively, hazard pay may be issued at a flat rate—for example, $250 per month.

If the employee mentioned above is eligible for overtime pay, they would be paid overtime calculated on their base salary plus the 10% hazard premium. In other words, the employee would be paid overtime based upon their total regular earnings, which includes hazard pay. There are some exclusions to the overtime rate calculation, but hazard pay is not one of them.

Some companies raised hourly wages for employees working during the coronavirus pandemic. Check with your manager or human resources department if you have questions about your compensation.

An employee will generally only receive hazardous duty pay for the hours worked in hazardous conditions. For example, if an employee works an eight-hour shift and four of those hours are spent in an air-conditioned office while four are spent doing construction in 100-degree heat, only the hours worked in the high-heat conditions will be at the hazard pay rate.

There is no legal definition as to makes conditions hazardous, but some common examples of hazardous conditions include:

  • Healthcare facilities
  • Mines
  • Construction sites
  • Dangerous or extreme weather
  • War zones
  • Hostile locations

How to Get Hazard Pay

Hazard pay is not legally required of any employer. It is most often a benefit that employers negotiate with unions through collective bargaining, but some employers offer hazard pay for non-union workers as well.

If you are preparing to begin hazardous work, your employer should brief you on the type of work you will be doing, the risks involved, and the rate of pay before you begin the work.

If an employee suffers accidental injury or death because they were not briefed on the hazardous conditions, the employer could be held responsible. Therefore, it’s in the employer’s best interest to give the worker as much information as possible before they begin hazardous work.

If you are offered a job, ask about hazard pay before accepting the position.

Types of Jobs With Hazard Pay

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the following 10 occupations as having the highest fatality rates. Because the conditions can be dangerous, workers at these jobs may receive hazard pay.

  1. Logging workers: The dangers arise from both the machinery involved and the work conditions.
  2. Fishers: Fishers need to deal with heavy-duty equipment and challenging weather conditions as well as operating a boat.
  3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: Being a pilot might top the list of kids' dream jobs, but like all jobs involving transportation, fatalities are disproportionately high.
  4. Roofers: Ladders and the height of the work combine to make this a potentially treacherous role. Roofers—along with ironworkers and electricians, other jobs with high fatality rates—perform some of the best-paid construction jobs.
  5. Refuse collectors: Collecting garbage means driving or riding on a garbage truck. That's risky enough, but then there's the heavy machinery aspect as well, which heightens the potential danger.
  6. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: Transportation incidents account for 40% of fatal occupational injuries annually.
  7. Farmers, ranchers, and agriculture managers: Heavy machinery adds to the danger of these jobs. The long hours also mean that potentially tired people are operating that heavy machinery, which heightens the risks. Depending on where the land is located, farming and ranching are blue-collar jobs that can pay more than $100,000 a year.
  8. Structural iron and steel workers: Installing beams can be dangerous work. Much of this work takes place at high heights, which adds to the danger.
  9. 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.
  10. First-line supervisors of lawn care and landscape workers: Machinery and chemicals can be a dangerous combination for landscape and grounds crews.

This list excludes people serving in the military, police officers, and firefighters. Those can also be very hazardous jobs, and those employees may also receive hazard pay. 

Key Takeaways

  • Hazard pay is additional compensation for workers who are performing exceedingly dangerous or physically uncomfortable jobs.
  • Usually, hazard pay is received as a premium on top of regular wages, or as a flat-rate payment.
  • The law doesn't require employers to give hazard pay, but it's often negotiated as part of a compensation package through collective bargaining with a union.

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "Hazard Pay." Accessed June 11, 2020.

  2. U.S. Department of Labor. "Fact Sheet #23: Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA." Accessed June 11, 2020.

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2018." Accessed June 11, 2020.