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Surprisingly dangerous jobs

The term “dangerous jobs” brings images of oil riggers, miners, loggers or scaffolding workers. These occupations have well-known risks and deaths in these industries receive national attention. Yet, many workers who are not in high profile jobs face dangers that are often underestimated. In fact, transportation related deaths continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths, a trend that has been the case since 1992.

While workplace fatalities reached the lowest level on record in 2008, it is hard to say if safety has improved as the sagging economy helped reduce fatalities. According to the latest BLS report (2008), on average, 15 workers died every day because of job injuries reaching a total of 5,214 deaths in 2008. Harsh environments, chemicals, power equipment, stress and assaults can create dangers on the job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupations with the highest fatality rates per 100,000 workers in 2008 were:

Fishers and related fishing workers
Logging workers
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Structural iron and steel workers
Farmers and ranchers
Refuse and recyclable material collectors
Electrical power-line installers and repairers
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

Jobs with the most fatalities

Motor vehicle operators
952 fatalities with 76% transportation related

Construction trades workers
726 fatalities with 37% fall related

Material moving workers
248 fatalities with 33% transportation related and 29% contact with object and equipment

Law enforcement workers
145 fatalities with 50% transportation related and 43% related to assaults and violent acts

Agricultural workers
142 fatalities with 46% transportation related

Grounds maintenance workers
131 fatalities with 29% each from falls and contact with objects and equipment

Sales supervisors, sales workers
131 fatalities with 65% from assaults and violent attacks

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, repairers
112 fatalities with 44% related to contact with objects and equipment

Supervisors, construction and extraction workers
111 fatalities with 31% transportation related, and 24% each falls and contact with objects and equipment

Metal or plastic workers
102 fatalities with 33% from contact with objects and equipment

While professional and office work is not considered a dangerous job, 31 engineers, 27 teachers, 23 community and social service counselors, 17 secretaries and administrative assistants and 11 financial specialists lost their lives on the job in 2008. No job is 100% exempt from danger and everyone needs to be on board when it comes to safety.

Although the report showed declines in many areas, a disturbing number was the increase in workplace suicides from 196 cases in 2007 to 263 cases in 2008, an increase of 34% and the highest number ever reported by the fatality census.

According to the statistics, workers age 35 – 54 account for over one-half of the workplace fatalities and 92.5% are male.

Download [ dangerous jobs ] complete list of fatalities by occupation and event