The Ten Most Dangerous Jobs In America

Apr 13, 2022 | Blog, Workers Compensation

After the shutdowns of the pandemic, the nation’s economy has rebounded dramatically, with millions of people going back to work — and millions of other job openings waiting to be filled, a near-record high. But certain jobs remain a lot more dangerous than others.

The number of fatal work injuries, tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is highest in the construction industry, with transportation and warehousing jobs a close second. But those figures are somewhat misleading; construction is such a huge industry that one would expect a greater total number of work-related injuries in that field than many others. The risk of a fatal mishap is actually much greater if you’re a logger or a commercial fisherman, industries that employ far fewer people.

Studies of America’s workplace injuries indicate that many of the most dangerous jobs don’t pay particularly well — in fact, many offer salaries that are below the 2019 annual mean wage of $53,490. Those jobs tend to have higher-than-average worker compensation premiums and are particularly risky for the self-employed, who are three times more likely to suffer a fatal work-related injury than hourly or salaried workers. Yet they remain essential jobs in our current economy. Here are ten of the most hazardous jobs out there:

1. Logging
Total deaths (2018): 74
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 97.6
Median annual salary: $40,650
Equipment accidents and falling objects are among the biggest risks faced by loggers, who have a fatal workplace accident rate that’s 30 times greater than the national average.
2. Fishing industry workers
Total deaths: 30
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 77.4
Median annual salary: $28,310
Boat accidents top the list of hazards facing those who pursue this demanding profession.
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Total deaths: 70
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 58.9
Median annual salary: $137,330
Pilots earn more money than the average worker, and commercial aviation is much safer overall than many other forms of transportation. Yet fatal crashes involving privately owned planes and helicopters boost the overall risk factor.
4. Roofers
Total deaths: 96
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 51
Median annual salary: $39,970
Bad weather, equipment accidents, and falls make roofing one of the most dangerous of all construction trades.
5. Derrick operators
Total deaths: 20
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 46
Median annual salary: $51,390
Derrick operators run the equipment used to extract oil and gas and mine for materials. Transportation and equipment accidents are constant risks.
6. Garbage collectors
Total deaths: 37
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 34
Median annual salary: $36,190
Year-round driving or riding on a truck to collect refuse or recyclable materials should draw hazard pay, but it remains an undervalued task.
7. Truck drivers
Total deaths: 966
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 26
Median annual salary: $24,700
Truckers face long hours and little pay, and the industry is consistently one of the most hazardous because of all the time spent on the road.
8. Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers
Total deaths: 257
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 24.7
Median annual salary: $24,620
Transportation and equipment-related accidents are common causes of injury among farm and ranch workers.
9. Iron and steel workers
Total deaths: 15
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 23.6
Median annual salary: $52,770
As with roofers, falls are a leading threat for structural steel and iron workers. The overall death rate in the industry is low, but it still ranks prominently on the list because of the relatively small number of people employed in the industry.
10. Front-line supervisors of construction trades
Total deaths: 144
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers: 21
Median annual salary: $65,230
Falls, trips, contact with objects or equipment, and transportation incidents are among common causes of fatal injury among construction supervisors.

 

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