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What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs in America?

Posted on by Ben Hartwig in SafetyJanuary 20, 2019

most dangerous jobs in america

Everyone has to make a living, but some choose to do so by risking their safety and even their lives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we’ve identified the top 15 most dangerous jobs in the US. You can consult the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for more information.

1. Logging Workers

Loggers have one of the most dangerous jobs in America, with the number of fatalities totaling 135.9 per 100,000 workers in 2016. These fatalities usually occur when a person is struck by an object (a falling tree, perhaps?), and their median wage is $37,590.

2. Fishing

Fishing is another deadly career, with a fatal work injury rate of 86 fatalities per 100,000 fishing workers in 2016. The most common incident that Fishers suffer isn’t known, and the median wage is $27,110. Along with fishing, hunting workers and other full-time equivalent workers suffer a myriad of injuries and fatalities each year.

3. Airline Pilots/Copilots and Flight Engineers

These are also very risky jobs, with 55.5 fatal injuries per 100,000 in 2016. The most common injury aircraft pilots suffer from is overexertion, which means long and random hours. The median annual wage is $105,720.

4. Roofers

Roofers have a median wage of $37,760 and had 101 fatal injuries per 100,000 in 2016. These were mostly the result of falls and slips on the job site.

5. Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

They suffered 34.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2016. Most of these were a result of falls and slips in the workplace. The median wage for this job is $35,270.

6. Structural Iron and Steel Workers

They suffer 25.1 fatal injuries per 100,000 – most often from being struck by an object. A mining machine operators median wage is $51,800.

7. Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers

Delivery and truck drivers experienced 24.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 in 2016, mostly from overexertion resulting in/or motor vehicle accidents. The median wages for this job are $36,670. If you're still considering having a career in this field it's critical to research the best and worst cities to own a car in the U.S., in order to prevent yourself from being involved in fatal accidents.

8. Farmers

Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers suffered 23.1 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2016. These were mostly due to falls and slips, but more than 44% were a result of machinery or other motorized vehicle accidents. The median wage for farmers is $66,360.

9. First-line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction

They experienced 18 fatal injuries per 100,000 from falls and slips, but 12.7% of these fatalities were a result of being hit by a car on a roadway. Their median salary is $62,980.

10. Other Agricultural Workers

These suffered 156 fatal injuries in 2016, mostly from being struck by an object during transportation incidents with off-road vehicles and machinery. Their median wage is $22,520.

11.Grounds Maintenance Crews

Grounds maintenance workers and first-line supervisors of landscaping crews suffered 217 fatal injuries with a median wage of $26,830. The most common accident groundskeeping workers suffer from is being struck by an object.

most dangerous jobs in america

12. First-line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers

These experienced 44 fatal injuries in 2016, mostly from being struck by an object. Their median wage is $63,540.

13. Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers make about $33,430 per year and suffered 254 fatal injuries on the job in 2016. Construction is another one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. Construction workers most often get struck by an object or experience fatal work injuries by heavy equipment or heavy machinery. It is a well-known fact that construction sites are very dangerous. There are more workers’ compensation claims from construction than any other industry. Poor weather conditions can exacerbate construction sites and make them even more dangerous. Many construction workers suffer serious injuries from power tools.

14. Police Officers

Police officers make a median wage of $59,680 and experienced 108 fatal injuries in 2016. Police work is one of the most dangerous occupations, especially in the most dangerous cities in the US, and the common cause of death is intentional injury by another person, such as shootings. Car accidents were also a common cause of fatalities.

15. Electrical power line workers

The fatality rate of electrical workers or electrical power-line installers is 21 fatal injuries or 14.6 per 100,000 workers in 2016. They are prone to overexertion and bodily reaction and make about $68,010. Electrocution is a leading cause of fatal accidents in this industry.


It goes without saying that most trade jobs that require great physical exertion also carry a higher risk of injury and fatalities and are the cause of higher insurance premiums for those employers.

Across the entire workforce, fatality injury rates totaled 3.6 per 100,000 workers. Professional jobs like writing, teaching, and administration positions carry very few physical dangers, and fatalities are very near zero. Other dangerous jobs with higher-than-average fatalities include taxi drivers; athletes, coaches, and umpires; construction machinery operators; painters; maintenance technicians, and HVAC installers and mechanics.

In 1970 Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act or OSHA. This established the organization that sets workplace safety standards and enforces them through education and preventative measures. From the passing of the Act to 2016, workplace fatalities were reduced from 14,000 to 5,200 annually.

Whether the median wages are worth the risk is up to you but choosing one of these listed careers could increase the likelihood of a workplace injury dramatically. That’s definitely something to consider if you’re trying to determine your next steps in your career, what type of education path to pursue, or whether a total career change may help you and your family sleep better at night.

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