For many of us in the workforce, a “bad day” may involve being late for work, being yelled at by our manager, or having to stay late to complete an important project on time. We should consider ourselves very lucky, because for many workers, a “bad day” may end with a serious injury . . . or worse. For many workers, the risk to their health and safety is a daily concern with good reason. Some jobs are simply more dangerous than others.
Workplace safety is monitored and overseen at the state and federal levels in the United States. Each year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a report on the number and rate of workplace fatalities. In 2020, the most recent year for which data was available, there were a total of 4,764 confirmed workplace fatalities. While this number represents a 10.7% decrease from 2019, it still means that in 2020 a worker died every 111 minutes.
There are two ways to look at which jobs are the most dangerous in America. You can look at the total number of fatalities by job title, or, for a more accurate picture, you can examine the fatal injury rate per 100,000 full-time workers by job title. The latter gives a better picture because although a certain job type may have more total fatalities in a year, it doesn’t take into account the number of people performing that work. For example, sales, delivery, and truck drivers had the highest total number of deaths in 2020 at 887, while the fatality rate per 100,000 truck drivers was 25.8, the seventh-highest among the most dangerous jobs. By comparison, the average on-the-job fatality rate per 100,000 for all full-time workers was 3.4.
Note also that many of the jobs on this list earn less than the U.S. average yearly salary of $48.516.