Most Dangerous Jobs

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.

Without further ado, here are the eleven most dangerous jobs in the United States.

11. GROUNDS MAINTENANCE WORKERS

Fatality Rate
19.4 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Transportation incidents

Fatal Work Injuries
202

Average Salary
$34,590

Grounds maintenance workers are responsible for ensuring that the grounds of parks, businesses, and residences are well maintained and clean. Some of the duties of these workers include maintaining grasses and lawns, removing weeds, trimming trees, bushes, and shrubs, watering plants, and raking leaves. Car crashes are the most common cause of death for grounds maintenance workers, often when traveling to or from a job site.

10. FARMERS, RANCHERS, AND OTHER AGRICULTURAL MANAGERS

Fatality rate
20.9 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Transportation incidents

Fatal Work Injuries
207

Average Salary
$76,810

Farmers are responsible for producing crops and dairy products and raising animals for food. They are responsible for the process of planting and harvesting or feeding and caring for livestock. Additionally, farmers purchase supplies for their farms and purchase and maintain farming equipment. They also sell their crops or livestock on the open market.

Crashes, including tractor crashes, were the most common fatal injury for farmers.

9. UNDERGROUND MINING MACHINE OPERATORS

Fatality Rate
21.6 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Transportation incidents, contact with objects & equipment

Fatal Work injuries
10

Average Salary
$56,100

Mining machine operators operate machines that remove rock, coal, metals, or other hard materials from a mine and load it onto conveyors that transport the materials out of the mine.

8. DRIVER/SALES WORKERS AND TRUCK DRIVERS

Fatality rate
25.8 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Transportation incidents

Fatal Work Injuries
887

Average Salary
$44,200

Delivery drivers load and unload trucks or cars and drive them to their destination within a local area. These workers generally pick up cargo, food, laundry, or other items from distribution centers or stores and deliver them to homes and businesses. They also may communicate with customers to coordinate deliveries, collect payment for goods, and process paperwork such as delivery signatures.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death on the job for driver/sales workers and truck drivers.

7. STRUCTURAL IRON AND STEELWORKERS

Fatality Rate
32.5 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Falls, slips, and trips.

Fatal Work Injuries
16

Average Salary
$58,650

Ironworkers are responsible for installing iron and steel on buildings, bridges, and roads. Their work often consists of climbing up on large structures, unloading iron and steel, and signaling to crane operators. They also use equipment to cut, bend and weld iron and steel. Steel and iron are some of the primary reinforcing materials for large-scale buildings.

Falls are the most common fatal occupational accident for structural iron and steelworkers.

6. REFUSE AND RECYCLABLE MATERIAL COLLECTORS

Fatality Rate
33.1 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Transportation incidents

Fatal Work Injuries
30

Average Salary
$46,260

Also known as garbage collectors, refuse and recyclable material collectors collect our trash and recycling.  Generally, these workers will drive a truck through neighborhoods and empty garbage bins and dumpsters into the trucks.  Many bins are loaded by hand while some trucks have mechanical lifters.  They then drive the trucks to a landfill or waste transfer station where the waste is unloaded from the truck.

The most common cause of death for these workers is being struck by a garbage truck or other vehicle.

5. AIRCRAFT PILOTS AND FLIGHT ENGINEERS

Fatality Rate
34.0 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Transportation incidents

Fatal Work Injuries
50

Average Salary
$163,480

Pilots and flight engineers are in charge of navigating and flying airplanes from one place to another, carrying either people or cargo.  For this group, the transportation-related incidents involve plane crashes.  Most incidents occur in the private sector.

4. HELPERS, CONSTRUCTION TRADES

Fatality Rate
43.3 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Falls, slips, and trips.

Fatal Work Injuries
19

Average Salary
$35,140

Construction helpers are construction workers who assist trade workers in the course of construction.  These workers can include building equipment contractors, building finishing contractors, foundation and exterior contractors, and others.  The most common cause of death for these workers are falls and trips on construction sites.

3. ROOFERS

Fatality Rate
47.0 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Falls, slips, and trips.

Fatal Work Injuries
88

Average Salary
$47,010

Much of the job for roofers requires spending time on top of buildings, repairing or installing their roofs.  Given that they’re often multiple stories above the ground, any slip or fall can become a deadly event.  The job is a physical one, requiring heavy lifting, climbing, and bending, often in uncomfortable weather conditions.

2. LOGGING WORKERS

Fatality Rate
91.7 per 100,000 workers

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Contact with objects and equipment

Fatal Work Injuries
42

Average Salary
$43,740

Logging workers harvest the trees that are turned into the wood for consumer goods and construction needs.  Among the biggest risks for loggers are being hit by falling objects while they are felling trees or having an accident operating the equipment that allows them to do so. The rate of fatal accidents in the logging industry is approximately 28 times higher than the average.

1. FISHING AND HUNTING WORKERS

Fatality Rate
132.1 per 100,000 workers 

Most Common Fatal Accident Cause(s)
Transportation incidents

Fatal Work Injuries
42

Average Salary Per Year
$33,310

Professional fishers use equipment like nets and traps to collect fish for people to eat.  Many of the accidents that occur in this industry involve boat incidents or falls from boats.  Fishers may spend long hours at sea doing difficult physical work.

Contact the Rideshare Accident Lawyers at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP Today

If you or anyone you know has been injured in a work-related accident, the attorneys at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP have a wealth of experience in dealing with employers, insurance companies, State and Federal government entities, all to protect your rights to receive the compensation you deserve.  Our attorneys handle all types of workplace accidents, including Worker’s Compensation claims, Social Security Disability, Construction Accidents, Veteran’s Disability claims, and Railroad/FELA claims. Contact us today for a free case evaluation by calling 1-800-LAW-1010 (1-800-529-1010). We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call or use our convenient online contact form here.

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