Job Seekers Beware: The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in the US

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Sep 17, 2019

Sep 17, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Did you know that on average 14 workers die on the job each day as a result of traumatic injuries? Or, that when you add occupation-related illness and injury to the mix, the number jumps to 275 fatalities per day?

These figures beg the question: what are the most dangerous jobs in the US? What's more, what steps can you take to protect yourself from injury as well as get help when occupational hazards arise?

From meeting OSHA requirements to stop-gap insurance for unforeseen situations, there are many steps employers should take. But first, it's important to understand which jobs are the most dangerous and how to mitigate their risks.

Let's take a look at the 10 most dangerous occupations in America. 

1. Logging Industry Workers

If you've ever watched Axe Men, then you're likely already familiar with some of the dangers associated with working in the logging industry. It's one of the most dangerous jobs in the country and with good reason. 

From the mechanized equipment and hand tools they use to cut trees to the chains and hoists that move the timber, there's little room for error. But there's plenty of room for injury.

The risk of fatal injury per 100,000 workers is 135.9 employees and another 2,449 get injured each year. These stats make employment in timber among the top causes of injury and death in the US. 

2. Workers in the Fishing Industry

If you've ever watched shows like Deadliest Catch, then you're probably not surprised that the fishing industry comes in second on our list. Yes, we understand that the show chronicles the lives of crab fishermen.

But they still fall within this larger umbrella of the fishing industry, where some of the most dangerous jobs in America lurk. What do casualty rates and injuries look like for those in the fishing industry?

Every year, approximately, 86 workers get killed on the job and an undisclosed number are involved in non-fatal work-related injuries. 

3. People in the Roofing Industry

While no reality TV shows exist when it comes to this third among the deadliest jobs, employees of the roofing industry must work with care.

Roofers take part in intense labor from re-shingling to re-slating and replacing aluminum, asphalt, or wood roofs. It's hard work that requires concentration and immunity to vertigo. 

The incidence of death on the job sits at 48.6 employees per year. Another 3,257 non-fatal injuries occur on the job annually, making this a post that's not for the faint of heart or those who fear heights. 

4. Flight Engineers and Aircraft Pilots

Flight engineers and pilots navigate multi-engine, fixed-wing aircraft following scheduled air carrier routes. They transport both cargo and passengers. While flying is considered relatively safe, when something goes wrong, many lives can be lost.

What do the stats look like when it comes to those who make a living flying the friendly skies. About 55.5 workers a year die as a result of fatal injuries. And another 466 workers sustain non-fatal injuries. 

So, next time you fly, make sure you thank the pilot and co-pilot for their willingness to take risks in the name of fast, affordable travel.

5. Garbage and Recyclable Material Collectors

We're all familiar with garbage men. They collect and dispose of recyclable materials and garbage from containers into trucks. This involves plenty of heavy equipment and dealing with traffic and drivers.

It's also physical work that must be completed year-round come rain or shine.

But what you may not know about trash collectors? They work in a dangerous field that results in 34.1 deaths on the job each year. And another 2,702 individuals get injured.

6. Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers

There are plenty of crazy reality television shows out there about the dangers of being a truck driver. From Ice Road Truckers to Big Rig Bounty Hunters, these shows highlight many of the extreme dangers associated with this industry.

But truckers and drivers don't have to be navigating the furthest reaches of the Alaska tundra to get into trouble on America's roadways. All it takes is rush hour traffic and a careless driver or two.

Approximately 24.7 truckers and drivers die each year as a result of accidents on the job. What's more, upwards of 2,828 truckers and drivers get injured in various incidents. 

7. Structural Steel and Iron Workers

Like roofers, iron and steel workers do plenty of physical labor. Much of it occurs at heights that would make most people's toes curl. Structural workers in the steel and iron industry, raise, place, and bring together steel or iron girders.

They create structural frameworks that represent the skeletons of today's industrial buildings, complexes, and even skyscrapers.

About 25.1 workers out of 100,000 die each year from injuries on the job. What's more, 2,158 non-fatal injuries happen among these workers annually. 

8. Ranchers, Farmers, and Agricultural Workers

Did you know that 23.1 ranchers and farmers die each year as a result of trauma sustained on the job? When you consider the heavy equipment they work with as well as chemical pesticides, you may be surprised there aren't more fatalities.

In terms of non-fatal injuries, about 28 people get injured in the industry each year. But as lawsuits pile up against companies such as Bayer (owner of Monsanto) a pesticide linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, these numbers will rise.

When it comes to other agricultural workers, they have their own stats. Approximately 17.4 employees die each year from injuries sustained on the job and another 1,316 are incapacitated by non-fatal trauma. 

9. Groundskeepers and Maintenance Crews

Like many of the other employees on this list, groundkeepers rely on a variety of heavy equipment to help them complete their jobs. They also get exposed to potentially cancer-causing pesticides every day.

How do these risks translate into on-the-job injuries and deaths? Each year, approximately 17.4 works die on the job. Another 2,243 get injured. This puts groundskeepers at number nine when it comes to the most dangerous jobs.

10. Construction Laborers

While they may not be climbing roofs or scaling vast metal skeletons to assemble steel and iron girders, construction laborers face unique risks, too. They perform physical tasks every single day and work with dangerous equipment.

About 15.1 construction workers die each year and another 2,961 sustain non-fatal injuries. Whether you're thinking about becoming a truck driver or a steelworker, read on here to learn more about protecting yourself on the job. 

The Most Dangerous Jobs in the US

What are the most dangerous jobs in the US? From garbage collectors to truck drivers, steel and ironworkers to roofers, there are plenty of dangerous jobs in the United States.

Fortunately, there are also plenty of capable, skilled workers willing to take on these jobs. But you need to understand the risks before applying for your next job. That way, you won't become one of the statistics listed above. 

Browse our blog now to learn more about who's hiring, what they pay, and how safe each industry is.