Reindeer herders risk more than red noses

Click to follow
The Independent Online

In Sweden, herding reindeer isn't just hard work - it can be fatal.

Swedish researchers have compiled a list of the most dangerous jobs in the Scandinavian country of nine million and found that reindeer herders, mostly indigenous Sami in the country's far north, suffer more fatalities and injuries than any other line of work.

According to Per Sjoelander, one of the researchers behind the study "Fatal Accidents and Suicide Among Reindeer Herding Samis in Sweden", 150 reindeer herders died on the job between 1961 and 2000, more than twice the number of farmers and more than three times the rate for construction workers during the same period.

"It's a dangerous job. They drive around on vehicles in difficult terrain and on thin ice. They work a lot, they work in a tough climate, so there are many reasons behind this," Mr Sjoelander said yesterday.

The researchers drew their conclusions by comparing official statistics on work-related accidents in different occupations found in the state-maintained Causes of Death registry.

"The reindeer herders are often by themselves when working, which may be a factor in the high number of fatal, work-related accidents," said Mr Sjoelander, who works in the Southern Lapland Research Department in Vilhelmina, 400 miles north of Stockholm.

The Sami, once called the Lapps, are believed to have followed their herds of reindeer to Europe's northern fringe thousands of years ago and, like the Inuit of North America, are indigenous to the Arctic.

There are an estimated 300,000 reindeer in Sweden. The hides are used for clothing, handicrafts and fashion, and the meat for food.(AP)