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25 Most Dangerous Jobs in the United States


Injuries, minor and severe, can occur in any workplace setting; however, some industries are more dangerous than others. These are the 25 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. as determined by USA Today.

25. Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics/Installers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 8.4 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 37 fatal injuries, 6,830 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration work is often associated with extreme temperatures and cramped spaces. Dangerous environments combined with harmful substances accounted for roughly 27% of all fatal workplace injuries; however, trips, slips, and falls.

24. Construction and Maintenance Painters

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 8.6 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 50 fatal injuries, 3,530 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips

While all painters deal with dangerous chemicals and conditions, those who work in construction and maintenance often apply paint, stain, and coating to high walls, tall ceilings, building exteriors, bridges, and other structures. Painters for bridges and large buildings may also rely on ropes and cables for suspension and access to hard to reach areas. Of the 50 deaths recorded in 2016, more than half were the result of falls.

23. Industrial Machinery Installation, Repair, and Maintenance Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 9.3 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 45 fatal injuries, 4,490 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Struck by object

Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance work involves factory equipment such as conveying system, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Some of the most dangerous work involves installing and repairing such equipment where workers are expected to follow strict safety precautions.

22. Electricians

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 10.0 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 79 fatal injuries, 7,790 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips

Common electrician injuries include electrical shocks, falls, and burns. Combine electrical hazards with cramped spaces and standing or kneeling for long periods of time, and it is understandable why injury rates are so high for electricians at twice the rate of the national hazard.

21. Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 10.6 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 39 fatal injuries, 4,750 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

Construction has always been a dangerous industry. Operating heavy equipment on such a site is associated with serious injuries, sprains, tears, fractures, punctures, and lacerations. Generally, these injuries result in an average of 17 days of missed work.

20. Athletes, Coaches, Umpires, and Related Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 11.7 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 29 fatal injuries, 4,250 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

While it may not be a surprise that injuries are common in field and professional sports, the fatality rate is certainly something of note. With a rate of 11.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, athletes and coaches had a higher rate of death than in all but 19 other jobs.

19. Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 12.1 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 21 fatal injuries, 2,480 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

Telecommunication lines often involve dangerous heights and electrical currents. Still, car accidents accounted for the lion’s share of on the job fatalities with falls, slips, and trips accounting for 29%. A typical injury in the profession was associated with 36 days of recovery before the employee could return to work.

18. First-Line Supervisors of Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 13.2 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 30 fatal injuries, 1,320 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

Grounds maintenance often requires powerful and sharp machinery. Unsurprisingly, one-third of all deaths in the profession are the result of unintended contact with objects and equipment.

17. Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 13.2 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 60 fatal injuries, 2,730 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Roadway incidents

Automobile accidents are by no means uncommon. As such, it should not be surprising that professions dealing with transport and travel are also associated with an increased risk of injury and death. However, in addition to collisions, taxi work is also associated with a risk of altercations with clients. If fact, 43.3% of taxi driver and chauffeur deaths were the result of violent altercations.

16. General Maintenance and Repair Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 13.4 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 75 fatal injuries, 27,900 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

General maintenance and repair workers are tasked with a variety of jobs dealing with a multitude of equipment and requiring a variety of tools. Among the most common risks are electrical shocks, falls, cuts, and bruises.

15. Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 14.6 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 21 fatal injuries, 1,710 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

Similar to electricians and telecommunication line workers, power-line installation and repair is associated with difficult working conditions and electrical hazards as well as electrical shocks, burns, and falls.

14. Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 14.6 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 108 fatal injuries, 28,740 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Intentional injury by other person

108 police and sheriff’s patrol officers died in action in 2016. The two leading causes of death were intentional shootings and car accidents.

13. Construction Laborers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 15.1 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 254 fatal injuries, 24,650 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Struck by object

Construction labor is a dangerous industry. Over one-third of the deaths were the result of slips and falls and one-quarter were associated with unintentional contact with equipment.

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

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 15.7 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 44 fatal injuries, 4,140 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Struck by object

First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers had an on the job fatality rate four times the national average. The leading cause of death among the profession was violence from another person or an animal. The leading causes of non-fatal injury were being struck by an object or being caught in machinery.

11. Grounds Maintenance Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 17.4 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 217 fatal injuries, 20,100 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Struck by object

Groundskeepers often work with sharp tools, such as saws and hedge trimmers, and do have to deal with dangerous heights. As such, it is not surprising that the majority of their injuries involve coming in contact with dangerous equipment and falls.

10. Miscellaneous Agricultural Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 17.4 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 156 fatal injuries, 12,710 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Struck by object

Agricultural workers make common use of equipment like tractors and off road vehicles. As a result, roughly half of all fatal injuries involving agricultural workers were caused by transportation incidents. The rate of injury among agricultural workers is about double the national average with a rate of 1,526 injuries for every 100,000 workers.

9. First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 18.0 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 134 fatal injuries, 6,090 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips

Just like other first-line supervision positions, supervisors involved in construction and extraction are not immune to the risks of their industry. Nearly 1 in 5 injuries for the profession involved being struck by a falling object while another fifth involved the individual falling from one story or higher.

8. Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 23.1 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 260 fatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips

As with miscellaneous agricultural workers, a large portion of fatal injuries affecting farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers from incidents involving tractors and off road vehicles.

7. Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 24.7 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 918 fatal injuries, 80,180 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

Again, more time on the road means a greater risk of accident. 80% of all fatal injuries involving these occupations were the result of traffic crashes.

6. Structural Iron and Steel Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 25.1 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 16 fatal injuries, 1,440 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Struck by object

Structural iron and steel workers are responsible for work on tall buildings and bridges and completeing structural frame works. Because of the extreme heights, fall can be catastrophic and deadly. Roughly 56% of all fatal injuries recorded in this field involved falls. Non-fatal injuries generally involved being struck by an object.

5. Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 34.1 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 31 fatal injuries, 6,170 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips

Refuse and recyclable material collection involves two common hazards: transportation and heavy equipment. 67% of industry deaths involved the former. Another common cause of death and industry involved workers being struck by other vehicles while working.

4. Roofers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 48.6 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 101 fatal injuries, 3,150 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips

Roofing work involves climbing and heavy lifting and is often done in hot weather. Exhaustion and fatigue leads to an increased risk of accident, and when working on a roof, an accident fall can be fata.

3. Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 55.5 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 75 fatal injuries, 470 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction

Inconsistent work schedules and overnight layovers can leave pilots exhausted and fatigued. This can result in an increased risk of injury, overexertion, and bodily reactions. Flying may be the safest form of travel, but there are plenty of risks that pilots and flight engineers face on a daily basis.

2. Fishers and Related Fishing Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 86.0 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 24 fatal injuries
  • Most common accident: N/A

Commercial fishing is hazardous physical work which introduces unique hazards in the form of weather and the ocean. Additionally, working on the water leaves the workers without quick access to medical help and hospitals. With a fatality rate of 86 per 100,000 workers, commercial fishing comes in second on the list of most dangerous occupations.

1. Logging Workers

  • Fatal injuries in 2016: 135.9 per 100,000 workers
  • Total: 91 fatal injuries, 900 nonfatal injuries
  • Most common accident: Struck by object

Similar to commercial fishing, logging is physically demanding and present hazards that are unique to the profession. Also like fishing, the work is done outdoors in remote areas, far removed from quick medical aid. Take into account the falling trees and dangerous machinery and it is no surprise that logging is the most dangerous occupation in America.

Contact an Experienced Workplace Accident Attorney

Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys fight to protect the rights of workplace injury victims. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed on the job, contact Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys. The goal of our offices is to not only protect your rights, but to send a message so the same tragedy does not happen again. We represent clients/victims all over the country.

Contact Us for a Free Case Review

info@tjhlaw.com

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