What Are the 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2022 | Workers' Compensation |

Any job can be dangerous, but some present more and greater hazards than others. Injured workers may suffer a wide range of hardships, from lost time on the job to significant medical bills. Drawing upon data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Insider has ranked the 34 deadliest jobs in the United States. Here are the top 10:

10. Farmers and ranchers

Agricultural environments present a number of dangers to workers, including:

  • Farm machinery accidents
  • Falls into grain silos
  • Injuries inflicted by cattle, horses, and other livestock
  • Exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals

Farming is a hands-on profession. Owner/operators of farms and ranches are prone to injury, as are laborers who work in fields, barns, cattle ranches, and other locations. The fatal injury rate in this occupation during the study period was 20.9 per 100,000 workers.

9. Mining machine operators

Mining site crews face constant job hazards as they operate machinery to drill, excavate, and clear mined materials such as rock, metal, and coal. What makes their jobs even more dangerous is that the work often takes place deep underground. Accidents arrive in the form of equipment accidents, fires, explosions, and even mine collapses. Workers face additional hazards in the form of lung injuries developed from breathing in dust, chemicals, and other harmful substances. The fatal injury rate for mining machine operators during the study period was 21.6 per 100,000 workers.

8. Truckers and other professional drivers

Anyone who drives for a living faces a constant threat from the people they share the road with, including distracted, drunk and otherwise negligent drivers. Truck drivers and other people who spend entire days on the road face additional risks due to factors such as the repetitive stress of gear shifting and the impact that sitting for extended periods can have on the back and neck. For most of these workers, their job is not confined to the road. Loading, unloading, and other activities pose additional hazards. The fatal injury rate for truckers and professional drivers during the study period was 25.8 per 100,000 workers.

7. Steel and iron workers

Raising, positioning, and joining enormous metal structures puts steel and iron workers among the most dangerous professions in the construction industry. This job combines three deadly job hazards: heights, large construction machinery, and massive, moving objects. The fatal injury rate for steel and iron workers during the study period was 32.5 per 100,000 workers.

6. Sanitation workers

People who collect refuse and recyclable materials face daily dangers such as:

  • Getting caught in processing equipment
  • Suffering cuts from broken glass, metal, contaminated needles, and other materials
  • Being involved in accidents with heavy equipment

A single cut from a discarded object can result in a serious and even fatal infection. Even in the absence of an accident, the daily toll of lifting refuse containers can lead to serious injuries to the back, neck, shoulders, and other body parts. The fatal injury rate for sanitation workers during the study period was 33.1 per 100,000 workers.

5. Aircraft pilots

Airplane and helicopter crashes are an obvious professional danger for pilots, but the risks they face are surprisingly broad. These dangers include:

  • Deep vein thrombosis from sitting in a cramped position for many hours
  • Stress-related injuries
  • Increased risk of skin cancer due to exposure to UV radiation

Some of these dangers, such as the risk of developing cancer, are shared by others who work on flight crews, such as flight attendants. The fatal injury rate for pilots during the study period was 34.3 per 100,000 workers.

4. Construction workers

People who work on construction sites face the risk of injury from a wide range of sources. Among the daily hazards these laborers face are:

  • Falling objects
  • Scaffold and trench collapses
  • Fires and explosions
  • Accidents involving forklifts, cranes, and other heavy equipment

Safety equipment and training can reduce the threat of construction accidents. When these measures are ignored, the risk of injury and death is even higher. The fatal injury rate for construction workers during the study period was 43.3 per 100,000 workers.

3. Roofers

Roofing is an occupation that, by definition, involves working in areas that are high off the ground. But it is not only falls that put roofers in danger. They also face many of the same risks that anyone who works in construction must contend with, such as electrocution, fires, and equipment accidents. The fatal injury rate for roofers during the study period was 47.0 per 100,000 workers.

2. Logging workers

Trees are not only dangerous when they are falling. Movement in a log pile can cause a worker to get caught between enormous, shifting fallen trees, resulting in fractures, crushed limbs and, all too often, death. Other risks come from choker cables, cranes, and accidents involving logging helicopters. The fatal injury rate for logging workers during the study period was 91.7 per 100,000 workers.

1. Fishing and hunting workers

The deadliest occupation in America is fishing and hunting and, sadly, it isn’t even close. The fatal injury rate in this occupation during the study period was 132.1 per 100,000 workers. Many of the fatal accidents that occur in this industry take place on fishing boats, where workers are at risk of getting struck by shifting equipment or getting washed off the deck by a wave.

Any job can be hazardous

While these occupations are more dangerous than others, any worker can suffer a life-changing accident on the job. We hope you stay safe at work, but if you do suffer an injury on the job, remember that you have rights that are worth protecting.


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