The revised figures from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2014 have been released, and they include some troubling facts. In 2014, there were a total of 4,821 workplace-related deaths, the highest annual total since 2008. The overall national fatal injury rate amounted to 3.4 deaths per 100,000 full-time-equivalent employees. It’s the first rise in the injury rate since 2010.

The BLS numbers provide us with two workplace figures: which occupations result in the greatest number of fatalities and which occupations have the highest rates of fatalities. We need to examine the differences among the data to determine the top 10 most dangerous occupations.

Greatest Number of Fatalities versus Highest Rates of Fatalities

At first glance, it would appear that transportation workers—everyone from long-haul truckers to salespeople driving within their territory to local delivery persons—have the riskiest job. At 1,984 deaths, you’d be justified in considering this an extremely risky occupation.

Anyone who drives for a living truly does have a dangerous job, one that routinely ends up on most Top 10 lists. After all, 32,675 people died on U.S. roads in 2014. A person is more likely to die while in a motor vehicle (odds are 1 in 272) than in an airplane, from being shot, or because of any kind of fall.

However, because transportation employs many thousands of workers, the rate of fatalities is not as high as the rates for other occupations. We will be compiling our Top 10 list based on rate of fatalities, not the number of fatalities.

The Top 10 List of Most Dangerous Occupations

Some interesting things to note before we get to the list:

  • Those who work with heavy machinery are more likely to encounter a bad end at work.
  • Those who interact with the public are more likely to die from being murdered while on the job.
  • Those who work odd hours or off hours, whose job is solitary, or who handle money are especially likely to be injured or killed by others while on the job.

The figures quoted are from the BLS for 2014. The most dangerous occupations, based on rate of fatalities, are:

  1. Loggers and the logging industry. Logging often takes the top position most years. Those in the logging industry work with incredibly dangerous equipment, frequently in bad weather and in all kinds of situations, including on steep slopes where it’s easy to lose your balance. The job itself is physically demanding and has, unfortunately, many ways you can die, including being trapped by and crushed by trees and logs. The fatality rate was 110.9 per 100,000 workers, with 78 dying.
  2. Fishers and the fishing industry. Chalk the No. 2 spot up to malfunctioning equipment, hazardous equipment, bad weather, and transportation accidents. The fatality rate was 80.8 per 100,000 workers, with 22 dying.
  3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers. Risky situations, bad or unpredictable weather, and heavy machinery contribute to commercial pilots and flight engineers taking the No. 3 spot. The fatality rate was 64 per 100,000 workers, with 82 dying.
  4. It seems almost silly to explain the dangers of working on roofs. Slips, trips, and falls from roofs or scaffolding are often fatal and cause this occupation to earn No. 4 on the list. The fatality rate was 47.4 per 100,000 workers, with 83 dying.
  5. Refuse and recyclable materials collectors. In other words, garbage collectors, who are at risk from the items they pick up and the machinery and trucks they use, are surprisingly on the list at No. 5. The fatality rate was 35.8 per 100,000 workers, with 27 dying.
  6. Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers. Once again, close contact with heavy machinery and transportation incidents contribute to taking the No. 6 slot. The fatality rate was 26.7 per 100,000 workers, with 270 dying.
  7. Iron and steel workers. As you might expect, slips, trips, and deadly falls cause structural workers to take the seventh spot. The fatality rate was 25.2 per 100,000 workers, with 15 dying.
  8. Transportation workers, from truck drivers to salespersons. We mentioned how dangerous a job that keeps you on the road all day can be, dangerous enough to earn the No. 8 spot. The fatality rate was 24.7 per 100,000 workers, with 880 dying.
  9. Power line workers, installers, and repairers. No. 9 is taken by those who work with high voltages and amperages every day. Electrocution and falls account for most deaths. The fatality rate was 19.2 per 100,000 workers, with 25 dying.
  10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs. Rounding out the Top Ten are those who drive passengers for hire. Traffic accidents and encounters with criminals are the biggest reasons for deaths. The fatality rate was 18 per 100,000 workers, with 68 dying. Of that 18 per 100,000, 8 of the deaths were due to murder.

The occupations landing in the slots just beyond the Top Ten (and these change position from year to year) include construction workers, police officers, general maintenance and repair workers, groundskeepers, electricians, fire fighters, and bus and truck mechanics.

Whatever your job, we at the Louthian Law firm hope you will work smart and stay safe.

Have Concerns? Talk With Us to Find Out More.

There is no substitute for proper legal help when making a workplace accident claim. If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, contact the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. We have served injured South Carolinians since 1959, so we understand how the workers’ compensation laws work and know how to pursue third-party negligence cases aggressively. We can help you collect the money you’re entitled to, so you can concentrate on getting better and going back to work.

If you have questions about your health problems or your workplace rights, call the Louthian Law Firm at (803) 454-1200, or use our online contact form  to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We believe you deserve more than a chance — you deserve a voice. You deserve the truth. You deserve justice.