The Most Dangerous Occupations in America: 2021

Dangerous Occupations
If you work in one of the top 10 deadliest professions, you should always understand the risks and how to avoid potential injury. Here’s a quick look at what those risky jobs are and what makes them so perilous.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Most of us don’t go to work worrying about our safety. If anything, the commute there is much more dangerous than what we do for a living.

But that isn’t true for everyone. Some Americans have hazardous jobs where injury and even death are a real possibility anytime you clock in for a shift. If you take a look at Business Insider’s list of the riskiest jobs it includes dozens of occupations. 

Anyone working in these occupations should seriously consider increased insurance coverage, including life insurance, because the number of fatalities on the job has increased in recent years. Advanced funeral planning and creating a last will and testament are also musts. 

The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2019 the total number of fatal work injuries was up to 5,333.

#10 – Grounds Maintenance Workers

Grounds Maintenance Workers
Gardener pruning a cypress on a crane. Seasonal trees maintenance

20 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

229 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Taking care of a property or the grounds of a larger space requires machinery that can be dangerous. Falls are another significant hazard of the job, but driving all that equipment to different locations is the biggest danger. This job actually has a slightly higher fatality rate than the previous year. 

#9 – Agriculture Managers, Farmers and Ranchers

Agriculture Managers Farmers and Ranchers
Mature african man at the wheel of his tractor. Farmer is sitting on his tractor in a vineyard.

23 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

238 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Heavy machinery is one of the biggest threats for ranchers and farmers in the agriculture industry. It’s a very physically demanding job that can get dangerous if a worker is fatigued. Transportation accidents also increase the risk of the job. The good news is, being a farmer or rancher was actually safer in 2019 compared to 2018. 

#8 – Structural Iron and Steel Workers

Structural Iron and Steel Workers
Worker grinding a steel profile in factory. Heavy industry at shipyard

26 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

18 total fatal work injuries in 2019

While the number of total fatalities is much lower than other occupations, the risk of death is much higher. Given the number of people who do this kind of work, 18 deaths is actually high. Slips, trips and falls are the number one cause of death for structural iron and steel workers.

#7 – Drivers

Drivers
Attractive unshaved man sitting in his car and looking at you with a happy smile

27 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

1,005 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Both the fatal work injury rate and total number of deaths for drivers was up in 2019. If you have to get behind the wheel of a vehicle for your work, then you’re automatically at more risk than the average worker. The clear danger here is the increased likelihood of being in an automobile accident. 

#6 – Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors
Urban municipal recycling garbage collector truck waste trash bin in industrial vehicle

35 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

31 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Not only are refuse and recyclable collectors driving around, they are also working around heavy machinery all day. But in the U.S. the fatality rate was way lower than in 2018, when the rate stood at 44.3.

#5 – Construction Trade Helpers

Construction Trade Helpers

40 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

20 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Construction trade helpers jumped way up the list in 2019. The number of fatalities nearly doubled from 2018, with slips and falls the most likely cause of a fatal injury. 

#4 – Roofers

Rooffers

54 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

111 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Falls are one of the top hazards on the job, which is why roofers are number four on the list of most dangerous jobs. Unfortunately, roofing has become a more hazardous occupation with a year-over-year increase in both the fatality rate and total number of deaths. 

#3 – Pilots and Flight Engineers

Pilots and Flight Engineers
Cheerful Caucasian man sitting in the cockpit with his arms crossed and smiling cheerfully

62 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

85 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Of course, with this occupation transportation incidents are the primary cause of death. This is another occupation that saw a sharp uptick in work-related fatalities in 2019. 

#2 – Logging

Logging
lumberjack in protective helmet writing in clipboard on logs background

69 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

46 total fatal work injuries in 2019

Getting all those trees for lumber and paper products is risky business. By some estimates, being a logger is 33 times more dangerous than the average job in the U.S. The job involves heavy equipment and heights – a dangerous combination in any work environment. 

#1 – Fishing

Fishing
BEAUFORT, SOUTH CAROLINA-OCTOBER 15, 2015: Portrait of commercial fishermen aboart a shrimping boat off the coast of South Carolina

145 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers

44 total fatal work injuries in 2019

In 2019, fishing officially unseated logging as the most dangerous occupation in America. The BLS’s data shows that fishers had the highest rate of fatal work injuries by far. Drowning is the most serious occupational hazard. Boating accidents are the biggest reason fatalities occur. 

*This list and the data it includes is based on the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The data includes occupations with 50,000+ workers.

More To Explore