America's Most Dangerous Jobs

dangerous jobsWhile many of us go to our jobs every day without even thinking that we might suffer a paper cut, there are thousands of other workers in peril every time they punch the clock. From inner city violence to acts of nature, professionals put their lives at risk to keep the community safe, keep store shelves stocked with food, keep our utilities running, and build our roads, cars and homes.

In August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report identifying the industries and occupations that had the most fatal work injuries. In 2008, there were 5,071 fatal work injuries and a fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers in the United States -- a drop from 5,657 and 4.0 respectively in 2007. While this decrease is something to be optimistic about, there are other factors to consider.

According to the BLS, economic factors likely played a role in the fatality decrease. Hours worked at the national level fell by one percent in 2008, and some industries that have historically accounted for a significant share of worker fatalities, such as construction, experienced larger declines in employment or hours worked. One might speculate the economy also be factored into the rise of workplace suicides, which were up 28 percent to a series high of 251 cases in 2008.

Are you curious to see if your job is one of the most hazardous? These were the most fatal occupations and industries last year:

Jobs with the highest fatality rates

The following 10 occupations had the highest fatality rates in 2008:

1. Fishers and related fishing workers

Fatality rate*: 128.9

2. Logging workers

Fatality rate: 115.7

3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers

Fatality rate: 72.4

4. Structural iron and steel workers

Fatality rate: 46.4

5. Farmers and ranchers

Fatality rate: 39.5

6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors

Fatality rate:: 36.8

7. Roofers

Fatality rate: 34.4

8. Electrical power line installers and repairers

Fatality rate: 29.8

9. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers

Fatality rate: 22.8

10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

Fatality rate: 19.3

Jobs with the most fatalities

The following 10 positions saw the most deaths in 2008:

1. Motor vehicle operators

Number of victims: 908

Most common manner of death: 66 were highway-related.

2. Construction trades workers

Number of victims: 720

Most common manner of death: 37 were attributed to falls

3. Material moving workers

Number of victims: 248

Most common manner of death: 14 fall-related fatalities and 12 were struck by objects

4. Law enforcement workers

Number of victims: 144

Most common manner of death: 38 were highway-related and 33 were homicides

5. Agricultural workers

Number of victims: 33

Most common manner of death: 19 highway-related fatalities

6. Grounds maintenance workers

Number of victims: 128

Most common manner of death: 20 deaths each from falls and being struck by an object

7. Sales supervisors

Number of victims: 124

Most common manner of death: 52 homicides

8. Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, repairers

Number of victims: 110

Most common manner of death: 30 were struck by objects

9. Supervisors, construction and extraction workers

Number of victims: 108

Most common manner of death: 24 fall-related deaths

10. Metal or plastic workers

Number of victims: 102

Most common manner of death: 15 from being struck by an object and 13 from falls

Most dangerous industries

These industries led in the number and rates of fatalities in 2008:

1. Construction

Number of deaths: 969

Fatality rate: 9.6

2. Transportation and warehousing

Number of deaths: 762

Fatality rate: 14.2

3. Agriculture, forestry, fishingandhunting

Number of deaths: 651

Fatality rate: 29.4

4. Government

Number of deaths: 522

Fatality rate: 2.3

5. Manufacturing

Number of deaths: 404

Fatality rate: 2.5

6. Professional and business services

Number of deaths: 389

Fatality rate: 2.7

7. Retail trade

Number of deaths: 290

Fatality rate: 2

8. Leisure and hospitality

Number of deaths: 233

Fatality rate: 2.2

9. Wholesale trade

Number of deaths: 175

Fatality rate: 4.2

10. Mining

Number of deaths:: 175

Fatality rate: 18

*Fatality rate is the number of fatalities per 100,000 workers

Next: Confessions of a Truck Driver >>

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