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What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.?

professional roofer in his working environment with tools of the trade
By Andrew Leonatti | Last updated on

Many of the most essential jobs in the United States, those that involve natural resources extraction and refining, moving goods, or construction, involve some element of danger. Unfortunately, according to the latest federal government data, thousands of workers are still killed every year here.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,250 workers died on the job in 2018. That was a slight uptick from 2017, but it is the highest amount of worker deaths since 2008. However, it was not enough of an increase to change the workplace fatality rate of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers.

While it's good the fatality rate did not increase, the National Safety Council, a group that focuses on reducing preventable deaths, believes that isn't good enough. NSC statistics manager Ken Kolosh described the situation as "treading water when it comes to worker safety."

Breaking Down the Numbers

According to the BLS's data, 40% of all workplace fatalities occurred in transportation accidents. That means those who drive or fly as part of their job are at a much higher risk of dying on the job.

The second-highest type of workplace fatality involved "violence and other injuries caused by person or animal." Third place was falls, slips, and trips.

The top 10 jobs with the highest fatality rates were:

  • Logging workers (97.6 deaths per 100,000 workers)
  • Fishers and related fishing workers (77.4)
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers (58.9)
  • Roofers (51.5)
  • Refuse and recyclable materials collectors (44.3)
  • Driver/sale workers and truck drivers (26)
  • Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers (24.7)
  • Structural iron and steel workers (23.6)
  • Construction trades and extraction workers (21)
  • Landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers (20.2)

What Can You Do?

While a number like 5,250 can seem low when you put it up against the working-age population of the U.S., the BLS reports that there were 2,834,500 workplace injuries and illnesses reported in 2018.

Workplace injuries and illnesses can happen in any line of work. But whoever your employer is, they have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment. That means you can take legal action, either through legal representation or by filing a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration if your employer:

  • Does not provide the proper safety equipment
  • Does not provide proper training
  • Does not address safety hazards or provide proper maintenance

Do not hesitate to assert your rights in the workplace if you feel as though your safety is at risk.

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