America's 10 Most Dangerous Jobs
By Laura Morsch, CareerBuilder.com
They help us build our houses and feed our families. They
deliver our packages and take away our trash, and when we need
a ride, they're there to whisk us away. And they're risking
their lives to do it.
They help us build our houses and feed our
families. They deliver our packages and take away our trash,
and when we need a ride, they're there to whisk us
And they're risking their lives to do it.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS), the workers most likely to be killed at work aren't
the ones donning bullet-proof vests to capture criminals or
saving victims from fire-engulfed buildings. Instead, the
workers most likely to die on the job are the ones who help
provide us with our daily needs like a safe home, food and
The typical worker has a low risk of fatal injuries at work
-- the fatality rate for all occupations is 4.1 per 100,000
employed. But these hazardous jobs, all of which had a
minimum of 30 fatalities in 2004 and 40,000 people employed,
are far riskier. The BLS lists these occupations as 10 of the
most dangerous in the nation:
1. Logging workers
Fatalities: 92.4 per 100,000 employed
Median Pay: $29,730
Logging and timber workers duties include cutting down trees
and cutting and moving logs, providing the raw material for
countless products. The nature of their work puts them at
constant risk of being killed by heavy, falling
2. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Fatalities: 92.4 per 100,000 employed
Median pay: $129,250 -- but may be much lower for
Although aircraft pilots and flight engineers have one of
the most dangerous jobs in the nation, don't swear off air
travel just yet. This category also includes commercial
pilots of smaller aircraft -- including crop dusters and air
taxis -- that are far more likely to crash than your typical
3. Fishers and related workers
Fatalities: 86.4 per 100,000 employed
Median Pay: $24,100
Fishers endure storms, fog, wind and hazardous working
conditions before bringing you the fresh salmon on your
dinner plate. Perilous weather puts fishers at risk of
drowning if their boat capsizes or they fall overboard. And
if they suffer serious injuries while at sea, help isn't
4. Structural iron and steel workers
Fatalities: 47 per 100,000 employed
Median pay: $42,430
These workers climb dozens of stories to lay the iron and
steel that form buildings, bridges and other structures.
Despite strapping on harnesses and other safety gear,
structural iron and steel workers face a high risk of fatal
injuries from falls.
5. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
Fatalities: 43.2 per 100,000 employed
Median pay: $25,760
When refuse and recyclable material collectors take away
your trash, they risk traffic accidents and fatal injuries
from explosions of hazardous materials. According to a
University of Miami study, the leading cause of on-the-job
fatalities for these workers is impatient motorists who try
to pass the garbage truck and hit the driver.
6. Farmers and ranchers
Fatalities: 37.5 per 100,000 employed
Median pay: $40,440
Farmers and ranchers raise animals and plant, cultivate and
harvest crops used to produce our food. However, the tractors
and machinery used by these workers can be very dangerous:
Non-highway vehicle accidents accounted for 40 percent of
occupational fatalities for farmers and ranchers in
Fatalities: 34.9 per 100,000 employed
Median pay: $30,840
When these workers climb atop your house to build or repair
your roof, they risk slipping or falling from scaffolds,
ladders or roofs, or burning themselves on flammable, toxic
8. Electrical power line installers and
Fatalities: 30 per 100,000 employed
Median pay: $49,100
When your lights go out, line installers and repairers climb
power poles and towers to get your electricity up and
running. Power lines are typically high off the ground, so
workers are at high risk of injury due to falls. Plus, these
workers are often at risk of electrocution from contact with
the high-voltage power lines.
9. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
Fatalities: 27.6 per 100,000 employed
Truck driver median pay: $33,520
Driver/sales worker median pay: $20,090
Truck drivers transport goods including cars and livestock,
and driver/sales workers deliver and sell their firm's
products over established routes. Both groups spend the
majority of their time on the road, putting them at high risk
of highway vehicle crashes.
10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Fatalities: 24.2 per 100,000 employed
Median pay: $19,570
The dangers of shuttling around patrons go far beyond
highway crashes. Taxi drivers, who often work alone and carry
large amounts of cash, may also find themselves victims of
robbery and homicide.
Laura Morsch is a writer for CareerBuilder.com. She
researches and writes about job search strategy, career
management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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