The 10 deadliest jobs in the U.S.

| August 27, 2013

Forbes recently came out with a list of the 10 deadliest jobs in the United States. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the list takes into consideration the number of on-the-job fatalities in various occupations. In total, there were 4,383 fatal work injuries in 2012, down slightly from 4,693 in 2011. The rate of fatalities also dropped: from 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2011, to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2012.

Forty-one percent of fatal workplace injuries happened in transportation accidents, including car accidents, overturned vehicles and plane crashes. Violence accounted for the second highest cause of workplace fatalities, responsible for 18 percent of deaths, including 463 homicides and 225 suicides. Just behind violence, slips, falls and trips accounted for 15 percent of fatalities, killing 668 workers.

Unlike the two leading causes of fatalities, slip-and-fall accidents are often easily preventable, and we’ll be the first to tell you that strategically-placed mats are one of the simplest ways to prevent them. However, in some of the deadliest lines of work, safe floor covering would do little to diminish the risks. See the ten jobs with the highest fatality rates below:

  1. Lumberjacks: For those who make their living cutting down and trimming trees, falling trees, difficult terrain and the equipment used to cut lumber can pose serious risks. This line of work carries a rate of 127.8 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, and in 2012, there were a total of 62 deaths on the job.

    deadliest jobs

    Though logging work is safer than it was when this photo was taken, it was still the deadliest job in 2012. From Richard.

  2. Fishers and related workers: Anyone who spends the bulk of their working life on the water can expect to face some extreme weather, which can also increase the risk of drowning. Add this to the daily operation of heavy equipment and it’s not surprising that fishermen make the list, especially with televisions shows like Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” bringing these dangers to public consciousness. In 2012, there were 32 fatalities with a fatality rate of 117 per 100,000 workers. The good news is, this category has moved down one spot since it took the number one spot last year.
  3. Pilots and flight engineers: Airline passengers shouldn’t be too worried for their safety—the primary dangers in this job come from testing equipment and making emergency responses. In 2012, there were 71 fatalities, more than the number of fatalities for fishers, but a lower rate of 53.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers.
  4. Roofers: Falling from a high roof is the most obvious danger for roofers, but high summer heats during peak roofing season can also lead to fatalities. Roofing earns the title of fourth most deadly job with 70 fatalities in 2012 and a fatality rate of 40.5 per 100,000 workers.
  5. Structural iron and steel workers: Most of us shudder at the though of working on buildings hundreds of feet above ground—and that’s before we factor in the fact that they both weld and wield heavy materials. The numbers for number five? Twenty-two fatalities and a rate of 37 per 100,000 workers.

    deadliest jobs

    In addition to being generally terrifying to those of us with a fear of heights, steel workers’ jobs can be deadly. From Bill Jacobus.

  6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors: Traffic, heavy equipment and hazardous materials can pose risks for these workers, leading to 26 fatalities in 2012 and a fatality rate of 27.1.
  7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers: These workers need to watch out for live wires and heights. In 2012, 26 workers died and the fatality rate was 23 per 100,000.
  8. Truck and other drivers: Long hours on the road can lead to fatigue, which causes 20 percent of crashes in the United States. In 2012, there were a staggering 741 fatalities, while the large number truckers and drivers makes the fatality rate just 22.1 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
  9. Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers: It’s not the animals that farmers and ranchers need fear—it’s the heavy machinery. There were 216 fatalities last year and a fatality rate of 21.3 per 100,000 workers.
  10. Construction workers: There are millions of construction workers in the U.S., which means that 210 fatalities in 2012 translates to a rate of 17.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers. These workers need to watch out for heavy materials and dangerous tools and equipment.


Category: miscellaneous

About the Author ()

At SmartSign, Monica manages and contributes to various blogs. Prior to joining the SmartSign content team, she helped produce and manage content for online publications, including and Monica studied journalism and French at New York University and attended the Columbia Publishing Course, where she learned the ins and outs of book, magazine and digital publishing. She grew up in Philadelphia, Tucson and Central New Jersey, but has called New York home for the past six years, and has lived in Brooklyn, specifically, for the last two. When not reading up on the latest in waste management for RecycleReminders, she enjoys reading long-form journalism, contemporary fiction and restaurant menus.