According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, 4,340 workers left for work never to return home. This number represents a significant decline in the number of fatal on-the-job accidents from 2008, when 5,214 workers lost their lives, but many labor analysts suspect workplace fatalities will rise again in proportion to economic gains and rise in employment. The agency also analyzed these workplace fatalities to determine the top 10 most deadly jobs in America.
1. Fisherman (118 deaths per 100,000) Storms, wind, rogue waves, violent seas, dangerous equipment, illness, isolation, and the constant risk of hypothermia and drowning make fishing the most dangerous job year after year.
2. Logging workers (61.8 deaths per 100,000) Working with heavy and dangerous equipment amongst falling timber, often in geographically dangerous and isolated areas, put loggers at high risk of serious injury and death. Exposure to lightning and other severe weather risks also add to the dangers these workers face.
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers (57.1 deaths per 100,000) Engine failure and other mechanical trouble can be unforgiving when you are thousands of feet in the air. Even the smallest pilot errors can have deadly consequences for pilots of commercial planes and smaller aircraft such as crop dusters and air taxis.
4. Farmers and Ranchers (38.5 deaths per 100,000) Despite images of a relatively safe, bucolic lifestyle, farming and ranching is actually fraught with danger. While there are always risks associated with livestock and grain silos, most deaths in the agricultural field are caused by tractors and heavy machinery. Non-highway vehicle accidents actually account for most of these deaths.
5. Roofers (34.7 deaths per 100,000) Hard labor at deadly heights, usually on perilous slopes, often with little or no fall protection seem to make roofing a mainstay on the list of the most deadly jobs in America.
6. Structural Iron and Steel Workers (30.3 deaths per 100,000) Managing giant steel beams suspended by crane lifts, often at soaring heights, is a risky occupation even with mandatory harnesses and safety gear. Power tools and heavy equipment also contribute to the danger of steel construction.
7. Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors (25.2 deaths per 100,000) While workers occasionally injure themselves by falling into garbage trucks, most deaths in the garbage collection occupation involve traffic incidents. Standing on narrow platforms and hanging onto rails while the truck is in motion is one hazard, but motorists who refuse to slow down or wait when the garbage truck stops and the workers hop off to gather trash are the greatest threat. Most refuse collectors who are fatally injured are struck by impatient motorists.
8. Industrial machinery installers/repairers and maintenance workers (18.5 deaths per 100,000) Heavy machinery is a common denominator in many of the most dangerous jobs. Workers working with industrial machines are exposed to any number of dangers including explosions, fire, shifting debris, chemical injuries, being struck or crushed, electrocution, amputation, and falling.
9. Truck drivers and driver/sales workers (i.e. pizza delivery) (18.3 deaths per 100,000) Driving is inherently dangerous for everybody, but driving at high rates of speed for long hours in heavy commercial trucks laden with tons of cargo makes the smallest accident or error many times greater. Workers such as pizza deliverers who often venture into unfamiliar and dangerous neighborhoods while carrying cash are at risk of being assaulted.
10. Construction Workers (18.3 deaths per 100,000) Construction workers perform a number of risky tasks in a multitude of hazardous environments. Working with heavy machinery, explosives, and power tools on busy highways, on tall buildings, or in underground sites makes construction one of the deadliest occupations anywhere.