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What are the Deadliest Jobs in America?

According to CNN Money, the American workplace becomes safer every year; however, ten jobs still claim the title of "America's deadliest occupations." These include logging, fishing, aviation, roofing, ironworking, sanitation work, electrical power work, trucking, ranching, and general construction labor.

With a median wage of nearly $33,000 per year, logging is commonly listed as one of the country's riskiest job – and with good reason. Loggers are subjected to harsh weather conditions, heavy machinery, large trucks, and other hazards on a daily basis. Research suggests that the logging fatality rate equals 127.8 worker deaths per 100,000 loggers.

  • Unlike most jobs, the logging fatality rate actually increased between 2012 and 2013. In fact, CNN claims that the number of logging-related deaths increased by 25% in the past year.

The second most deadly line of work – fishing – pays approximately $33,430 per year. Although the fatality rate is slightly less than logging (117 deaths per 100,000 workers), the risks are arguably just as dangerous. In the past, fishing vessels were known for placing their employees in harm's way by practicing the "derby system;" carrying as many fish as possible in the vessel to beat their competitors.

To eliminate this problem, the government instituted a new system that allowed boats to fill their individual quota at any time during the fishing season. This keeps fishermen from risking their lives to beat other fishing vessels. According to the director of Inter-Cooperative Exchange, the new system turned crab fishing from "The deadliest catch to the safest catch."

With a fatality ratio of 53.4 deaths to every 100,000 employees, aviation earns third place in the list of America's deadly jobs. Generally speaking, major airplane pilots are not at risk; charter, bush, and taxi pilots are significantly more likely to die on the job. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration states "human error" as the primary reason behind these risks and deaths. Over the past decade, the number of fatal airplane accidents in the United States fell by 40%.

Roofing is another "deadly" job. With a fatality rate of 40.5 deaths to every 100,000 workers, roofing remains the fourth most dangerous occupation in the county. Like any form of construction, roofing involves dangerous power tools, chemicals, and sharp objects – all with the added risk of working on top of a building.

Ironwork, another construction-related occupation, is linked to a large number of fall-related deaths. In recent years, new rules have eliminated some of these deaths by requiring vertical beams to be fastened with four bolts. In the past, these beams were bolted only twice.

One of the little-known "deadly jobs" in the United States is sanitation work. Although their jobs are not as dangerous as logging or roofing, sanitation workers can suffer serious – if not fatal – injuries on busy city streets. The heavy machinery used by garbage trucks to lift dumpsters can be hazardous as well, along with the risk of volatile pesticides and chemicals carelessly thrown into garbage cans.

By nature, electrical power lines are dangerous. Preliminary data indicates that the fatality rate among electrical power line workers is 23 deaths per 100,000 employees. In addition to the risk of electrocutions, burn injuries, and explosions, these workers risk falling from great heights.

The fatality rate for truck drivers in the United States is 22.1 deaths per 100,000 drivers. Although truckers work with heavy machinery, the risks associated with truck driving are fatigue and traffic accidents – issues that are basically connected with anyone who spends a great deal of time on the road.

With a median income of $60,750, farming / ranching is the ninth most deadly occupation in the nation. Over the past four decades, farming has become much safer than it was, but tractors and all-terrain vehicles still pose a significant hazard to workers. An Illinois grain farmer said, "Anytime you're operating heavy equipment, there's inherent danger. But there's been a lot of consolidation so there are fewer farmers to educate now. That makes it easier."

Construction work, the tenth most deadly job in the United States, has a 17.4 to 100,000 fatality rate. By nature, construction sites are full of on-the-job hazards. From scaffolding and fall injuries, to power tools and the risk of electrocution, there are a multitude of potential risks associated with construction. Road construction alone is responsible for a large number of serious car-pedestrian accidents. To eliminate this problem, some experts believe that construction vehicles should be equipped with radar to keep drivers from backing over workers. Learn more about construction accidents.

As a personal injury law firm in Chicago, Duncan Law Group is passionate about workplace safety. At the firm, Attorney Robert Duncan is committed to helping accident victims (including victims of workplace injuries) obtain financial compensation for their injuries.

If you or someone close to you suffered a serious injury at work, speak to a Chicago personal injury lawyer from our firm and request a free initial consultation regarding your case.

Phone: (312) 202-3283

Office Location:
161 N. Clark,
Suite 2550
Chicago, IL 60601

For more information about workplace accidents and injuries in Chicago, visit our workplace accidents page.