Do you have one of America’s most dangerous jobs?

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Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases data on workplace fatalities, including industries with the highest fatality rates. While some sectors that made the list aren’t completely surprising due to the nature of the work — transportation and mining for example — others, such as professional and business services, may be more unexpected.

According to the most recent report, 4,609 fatal work injuries were recorded in the U.S. in 2011. While it’s difficult to find good news in this type of report, this preliminary number is down from 4,690 fatal injuries in 2010.

Industries known for higher fatality rates also saw a downward trend in year-over-year deaths. The number of fatal work injuries in the private construction sector declined by 7 percent in 2011. Economic conditions, which caused the delay or termination of construction projects, may explain some of this decline. Fatal coal mining injuries also declined sharply from 43 in 2010 to 17 in 2011, largely due to the spike in 2010 resulting from the Upper Big Branch mining disaster. However, fatal work injuries in the professional and business services sector, a less obvious group that includes marketing, human resources and payroll services, were up 16 percent.

Industries with the 10 highest fatal work injury rates (per 100,000 full-time workers):

1. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
Fatal work injury rate: 24.4
Number of fatal work injuries: 557

2. Mining
Fatal work injury rate: 15.8
Number of fatal work injuries: 154

3. Transportation and warehousing
Fatal work injury rate: 15.0
Number of fatal work injuries: 733

4. Construction  
Fatal work injury rate: 8.9
Number of fatal work injuries: 721

5. Wholesale trade
Fatal work injury rate: 4.9
Number of fatal work injuries: 189

6. Utilities
Fatal work injury rate: 4.2
Number of fatal work injuries: 39

7. Professional and business services  
Fatal work injury rate: 2.9
Number of fatal work injuries: 424

8. Other services (e.g., equipment and machinery repairing, promoting or administering religious activities, grant-making)
Fatal work injury rate: 2.9
Number of fatal work injuries: 177

9. Government
Fatal work injury rate: 2.2
Number of fatal work injuries: 495

10. Manufacturing
Fatal work injury rate: 2.2
Number of fatal work injuries: 322

Given the industries with high incidences of fatal injuries, it makes sense that certain occupations related to transportation, construction and agriculture had some of the highest fatal work injury rates.  

10 occupations with high fatal work injury rates (per 100,000 full-time workers):

1. Fishers and related fishing workers
Fatal work injury rate: 121.2

2. Logging workers
Fatal work injury rate: 102.4

3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Fatal work injury rate: 57

4. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
 Fatal work injury rate: 41.2

5. Roofers
Fatal work injury rate: 31.8

6. Structural iron and steel workers
Fatal work injury rate: 26.9

7. Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers
Fatal work injury rate: 25.3

8. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
Fatal work injury rate: 24

9. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
Fatal work injury rate: 20.3

10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Fatal work injury rate: 19.7

The report also includes information on the causes of these workplace fatalities. Topping the list is transportation incidents, which accounted for more than two out of every five fatal work injuries. Also high on the list? Workplace violence, with 458 homicides and 242 suicides recorded in 2011.  

Fatal occupational injuries by major event:

  • Transportation incidents — 41 percent
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals — 17 percent
  • Contact with objects and equipment — 15 percent
  • Falls, slips and trips — 14 percent
  • Exposure to harmful substances and environments — 9 percent
  • Fires and explosions — 3 percent

In a statement responding to the report, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said: “It’s clear that we must maintain our commitment to ensuring our workplaces are safer and healthier for every American. This is a challenge that must be undertaken not just by the government but by the entire country. We know how to prevent these fatalities, and all employers must take the steps necessary to keep their workers safe.”

Hopefully, as more health and safety measures are enforced in the workplace, the decline in work-related fatalities will continue in 2012 and beyond.

  1. Yes I do have one of the most dangerous jobs. After reading your article, I own a Construction, Heavy Highway Traffic control Company. In your article re: constuction Traffic is very high risk everysecond you are on the public highways. I am also a female owner, Sometimes helps but have to double insure my traffic set are perfect per federal standards. Setting up a controlled work zone, sign placement, employing trained flaggers. I am in charge of the safety for construction workers, flaggers, public at all times. I realized that standing in front of a 4,000 lb. vehicle plus larger moving vehicles, I know I am the target. Confused motorists, text & driving, all driving distractions are to common. Construction-Traffic Control. !  

  2. To make life beautiful and prosperous human have to do job to get monetary advantage from which various lifestyle things he will enjoy. I am doing worlds most dangerous job IE- mining, but job is adventurous also as like software developer only logic has to develop but have to be careful from any mistake. Here have to care about physical mistake.

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