Skip to main content
Home Asia Europe U.S. World Business Tech Science Entertainment Sport Travel Weather Specials Video I-Reports
U.S. News
Career Builder

Most dangerous jobs

By Laura Morsch
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

( -- For many of us, the most dangerous part of the workday is the commute -- followed closely by teetering on stiletto heels.

Nationwide, most employees have a miniscule chance of being killed at work. There were just four fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers in the United States in 2005, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That, of course, is just the average. For some workers -- soldiers in combat, for example -- every day is a life-threatening one. But on the domestic front, the most dangerous jobs are less obvious.

Statistically speaking, farmers -- with a fatality rate of 41.1 -- are more than twice as likely to die on the job than police officers (18.2) and nearly four times more likely to be killed at work than firefighters (11.5).

Most life-threatening jobs

According to BLS data, the following jobs had some of the highest fatality rates for 2005:

Fishers and related fishing workers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 118.4
Average salary: $29,000 per year

Logging workers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 92.9
Average salary: $31,290 per year

Aircraft pilots and flight engineersexternal link
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 66.9
Average salary: $135,040

Structural iron and steel workersexternal link
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 55.6
Average salary: $43,540

Refuse and recyclable material collectorsexternal link
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 43.8
Average salary: $30,160

Farmers and ranchers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 41.1
Average salary: $39,720

Electrical power-line installers and repairersexternal link
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 32.7
Average salary: $49,200

Truck driversexternal link
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 29.1
Average salary: $35,460 (for heavy or tractor-trailer drivers)

Miscellaneous agricultural workersexternal link
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 23.2
Average salary: $24,140

Construction laborersexternal link
Fatality rate (per 100,000 workers): 22.7
Average salary: $29,050

Most injury-prone jobs

Although employees are statistically unlikely to die on the job, illnesses and injuries are a far greater threat. In 2005, the rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses was 4.6 per 100 workers.

The manufacturing industry accounted for more than 20 percent of the nation's reported nonfatal occupational injuries last year, with complaints ranging from sprains to gashes. Sixteen percent of workplace injuries were reported by workers in the healthcare sector.

The following industries saw the highest workplace injury rates for 2005:

  • Beet sugar manufacturing: 16.6 injuries per 100 workers
  • Truck trailer manufacturing: 15.7 injuries per 100 workers
  • Iron foundries: 15.2 injuries per 100 workers
  • Prefabricated wood building manufacturing: 13.9 injuries per 100 workers
  • Framing contractors: 13.3 injuries per 100 workers
  • Jobs that could make you sick

    Considering the nature of their work, it's not surprising that healthcare workers reported 19 percent of the 242,500 new occupational illnesses in the private sector for 2005. But manufacturing workers actually get sick from work most often, accounting for 39 percent of reported injuries.

    The following industries had the highest reported illness rates:

  • Light truck and utility vehicle manufacturing: 701.5 illnesses per 10,000 workers
  • Animal slaughtering, except poultry: 478.8 illnesses per 10,000 workers
  • Automobile manufacturing: 320.6 illnesses per 10,000 workers
  • Cut stock, resawing lumber and planning: 276.4 illnesses per 10,000 workers
  • Motor vehicle air-conditioning manufacturing: 235 illnesses per 10,000 workers
  • Laura Morsch is a writer for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

    © Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

    CNN U.S.
    CNN TV How To Get CNN Partner Hotels Contact Us Ad Info About Us Preferences
    © 2007 Cable News Network.
    A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
    SERVICES » E-mail RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNN Mobile CNN Pipeline
    Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
    Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more