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Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

Each year, Forbes looks into the most deadly, injury prone, and dangerous jobs in America. From Logging Workers to Fisherman to Construction Laborers, each job has its dangers and downfalls.  In this, we will share with you the Deadliest jobs in America based on a study of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

Deadliest Jobs in America

A preliminary total of 4,383 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2012, down from a revised count of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011, according to results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2012 total represents the second lowest preliminary total since CFOI was first conducted in 1992. The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2012 was 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a rate of 3.5 per 100,000 in 2011.

Related: What Were the Most Cited OSHA Violations in 2013?

Over the last 5 years, net increases to the preliminary count have ranged from 84 in 2011 to 211 in 2009. The revised 2011 figure represented a 2 percent increase over the preliminary total, while the 2009 figure was a 5 percent increase. Revised 2012 data from CFOI will be released in the late Spring of 2014.

Logging workers

The Job: Cut down and trim trees for sale and transport.

The Dangers: Falling trees, cutting equipment, difficult terrain.

Fatality Rate*: 127.8

Total Fatalities in 2012**: 62

Fishers and Related Fishing Workers

The Job: Capture aquatic animals in large quantities.

The Dangers: Extreme Weather, Heavy Equipment, Drowning

Fatality Rate: 117.0

Total Fatalities in 2012: 32

Related: Cold Stress: Avoiding Workplace Injury

Aircraft pilot and flight engineers

The Job: Operate planes and helicopters.

The Dangers: Testing equipment, emergency response, crashes.

Fatality Rate*: 53.4

Total Fatalities in 2012: 71


The Job: Repair, maintain or install roofs.

The Dangers: Heights, summer heat.

Fatality Rate: 40.5

Total Fatalities in 2012: 70

Structural Iron and Steel Workers

The Job: Mold, set and handle metal construction materials.

The Dangers: Heights, heavy materials, welding.

Fatality Rate: 37.0

Total Fatalities in 2012: 22

Refuse and recyclable material collectors

The Job: Collect, compress and transport trash.

The Dangers: Heavy equipment, traffic, hazardous materials.

Fatality Rate: 27.1

Total Fatalities in 2012: 26

Electrical power-line installers and repairers

The Job: Install or repair cables or wires used in electrical power or distribution systems.

The Dangers: Heights, electricity

Fatality Rate: 23.0

Total Fatalities in 2012: 26

Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers

The Job: Transport goods by truck. Sometimes also involves selling goods on location.

The Dangers: Traffic, fatigue.

Fatality Rate: 22.1

Total Fatalities in 2012: 741

Related: Sleep Tips for Truckers

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

The Job: Grow and cultivate livestock and crops.

The Dangers: Heavy machinery.

Fatality Rate: 21.3

Total Fatalities in 2012: 216

Related: Addressing and Minimizing Tractor-Related Agricultural Injuries

Construction laborers

The Job: Perform tasks involving physical labor at construction sites

The Dangers: Heavy machinery, dangerous tools and equipment.

Fatality Rate: 17.4

Total Fatalities in 2012: 210

What Types of Incidents Cause Fatal Occupational Injuries?

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 Press Release: Transportation incidents accounted for more than 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2012. (See chart 1.) Of the 1,789 transportation-related fatal injuries, about 58 percent (1,044 cases) were roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles.

Nonroadway incidents, such as a tractor overturn in a farm field, accounted for another 13 percent of the transportation-related fatal injuries. About 16 percent of fatal transportation incidents in 2012 involved pedestrians who were struck by vehicles. Of the 283 fatal work injuries involving pedestrians struck by vehicles, 65 occurred in work zones. (Note that transportation counts presented in this release are expected to rise when updated 2012 data are released in Spring 2014 because key source documentation detailing specific transportation-related incidents has not yet been received.)

Related: Workplace Ergonomics Part 2

Fatal work injuries among those fatally injured in aircraft incidents in 2012 declined by 14 percent from 2011, accounting for 125 fatalities or about 7 percent of the transportation total.

Overall, 767 workers were killed as a result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals, including 463 homicides and 225 suicides. The work-related suicide total for 2012 declined 10 percent from the 2011 total and the homicide total was also slightly lower. Shootings were the most frequent manner of death in both homicides (81 percent) and suicides (48 percent). Of the 338 fatal work injuries involving female workers, 29 percent involved homicides.

Fatal falls, slips, or trips took the lives of 668 workers in 2012, down slightly from 2011. Falls to a lower level accounted for 544 or about 81 percent of those fatalities. In 2012, the height of the fall was reported in 437 of the fatal falls to a lower level. Of those cases, about one in four occurred after a fall of 10 feet or less. Another one-fourth of the fatal fall cases occurred from falls of over 30 feet.

Related: 4 Simple Ways to Prevent Workplace Injury

While the total number of fatal work injuries involving contact with objects and equipment in 2012 remained about the same as in 2011, the number of workers fatally injured after being struck by objects or equipment increased by 7 percent (to 509 fatal work injuries in 2012 from 476 in 2011). This total includes 233 workers struck by falling objects or equipment and 199 struck by powered vehicles or mobile equipment not in normal operation.

There were 142 multiple-fatality incidents in 2012 (incidents in which more than one worker was killed) in which 341 workers died.

Nova Medical Centers, a rapidly growing Occupational Health Services Provider, has locations through Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia; with many more planned.  We look to assist your firm in making smart and safe occupational health decisions, and as it saddens us to report this news, we look to be your source for occupational health news.  You can view Nova Medical Center Locations and Contact us for more occupational health advice.

* Per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

** Based on 2012 preliminary data.

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