The Most Dangerous Jobs In America

Dangerous JobsAs a country, we might not be getting any richer, but we are getting safer -- and apparently a lot less hostile.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual report on workplace fatalities, 4,547 people died on the job last year. This preliminary number is slightly lower than the 4,551 fatal injuries recorded in 2009, and the lowest on record since the BLS began tracking this information in 1992.

Workplace homicides also fell to a record low last year, to 506, down 7 percent from 2009. Since peaking at 1,080 in 1994, the number of workplace homicides has been steadily declining.

Though the rate of fatal injury across all occupations in 2010 was 3.5 per 100,000 workers, in line with 2009, a number of jobs proved to be especially dangerous last year. The following 10 jobs all had fatal injury rates at least five times greater than average.

Occupations with the highest rate of fatal work injuries (deaths per 100,000 workers):

  1. Fishers and related fishing workers: 116
  2. Logging workers: 91.9
  3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: 70.6
  4. Farmers and ranchers: 41.4
  5. Mining machine operators: 38.7
  6. Roofers: 32.4
  7. Refuse and recyclable materials collectors: 29.8
  8. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: 21.8
  9. Industrial machinery installation, repair and maintenance workers: 20.3
  10. Police and sheriff's officers: 18.0

Given the fact that transportation accidents, assaults and violent attacks, and contact with objects and equipment, are consistently the most common causes of fatal workplace injuries each year, it's not hard to see what makes these occupations so dangerous.

Most of these jobs also fall within the larger industry sectors that historically record the highest total number of workplace fatalities each year, including construction; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; and transportation and warehousing.

Still, workplace fatalities aren't limited to industries that are obviously dangerous. The professional and business services industry, for example, which includes occupations such as legal services, marketing and human resources, had the fourth-highest number of workplace fatalities in 2010.

Total number of workplace fatalities, and percent of total workplace fatalities by industry sector:

  1. Construction: 780; 17.2 percent
  2. Transportation and warehousing: 657; 14.4 percent
  3. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting: 600; 13.2 percent
  4. Professional and business services: 373; 8.2 percent
  5. Manufacturing: 324; 7.1 percent
  6. Retail trade: 302; 6.6 percent
  7. Public administration: 301; 6.6 percent
  8. Leisure and hospitality: 245; 5.4 percent
  9. Education and health services: 230; 5.1 percent
  10. Other services (repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services, religious organizations): 186; 4.1 percent).

Though the American workplace continues to get safer, even one workplace fatality is too many. If you feel like your workplace is unsafe, talk to your human resources department. By law, employers are required to provide you with a safe work environment. To find out more, visit

Next: Workplace Safety: Beware Of These Hidden Dangers

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The more dangerous the job, the more likely it is to be held by men.

If mostly women died on the job, feminists and the media would be in an uproar not about the gender wage gap but about the workplace death gap. But because most work fatalities fall to men, articles like this one don't even mention the word "men."

The Next Equal Occupational Fatality Day is in 2020. The year 2020 is how far into the future women will have to work to experience the same number of work-related deaths that men experienced in 2009 alone.

See “A Male Matters Response to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” at

September 06 2011 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

figures the ones that get paid the most because of the dangers is at the bottom of the list

August 30 2011 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, I believe this story...on the job homocide is going down, there are less, and less, and less jobs, so...

August 30 2011 at 5:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roy M

Amazing the trash man gets killed on the job more than police man does. I guess they'll start having 21 trash can salutes

August 30 2011 at 5:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about the military?
What is the % for people in the military? Let's run those numbers and see who has the most dangerous jobs.

August 30 2011 at 4:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to robpatti's comment

Do you think Pentagon is going to publish those number? Military recruits have hard enough time to get people to join even with very significant sign up bonus, GI Bill, and notice we have one of the worst military pay amongest industrialized nations? It is also well known that VA does not adequately serve our brave service men and women in uniforms which neither political parties address. That is not the case with military contractors, then the story is different..Ring a bell? Possible kickbacks? Investigative reports for military fraud should be utmost priority to save military from many corrupt politicans.

August 30 2011 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jimmy's comment

No,in actuality a person is more likely to be killed on our own American streets by black or mexican gang members than the military.So,if you want to stay alive...join the army and fight a war! Seriously though that is a fact. We are in a much bigger war here in our own streets.

September 01 2011 at 5:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Dan Daily

Of course work place deaths are down, 16 million people are out of work, like duh?????

August 30 2011 at 3:49 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Statistically, this category may not count because the number of people in the category is extremely small compared to the number of those in other job categories; but serving as President of the United States may be the most dangerous job in the country. There have been 44 presidents (actually 43 because Cleveland served as President for two non-consecutive terms). Although eight have died while in office, four of those eight died by assassination. If one assumes that presidential assassination is a "job-related" death (because they wouldn't have been assassinated had they not been President) then it turns out that 4 of 43 presidents (9.3%) have suffered a job-related death. This is even more significant when you consider that one only serves in that job for 4 to 8 years (excluding FDR). That's a pretty dangerous job!

August 30 2011 at 1:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to trwitt50's comment
Michael & Soren

I hope so

August 30 2011 at 8:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes,most definitely a dangerous job,but the one in there now is killin all of us! lol

September 01 2011 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

curious to know if they have included the Military...seeing as is it only 1% of the US work force and we have military members dieing everyday....just wondering where they put that on the list.....

August 30 2011 at 1:33 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

I am not sure who made up this list and sure some of it does have merrit. Only they left out High voltage lineman or they grouped them in with construction workers. Either way I dont put mush stock in this list.

August 30 2011 at 1:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This list only reflects workers who die right on the job or shortly thereafter, not those who get sick from the job, then suffer and die later. Firefighters might still be on that list. Another highly dangerous job area is healthcare. Doctors, nurses, etc. get hepatitis, aids, stress related disease, etc. but then die later. How about a new list?!

August 30 2011 at 1:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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