Do You Work in One of the 10 Deadliest Jobs in America?

If you are a part of America’s work force, you have probably had some job safety training and have been advised that occupational accidents and injuries happen to those who don’t pay attention to safety.

In truth, accidents sometimes happen to workers because of the carelessness or disregard for safety of a co-worker or someone else. In fact, government figures released earlier this year say 5,190 American workers were killed on the job in 2021, the highest annual total since 2011.

That is an overall fatal work injury rate of 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

Hopefully, your workplace has never had a workplace fatality or even a serious worker injury at you. You may wonder who are the workers being killed in on-the-job accidents.

We can tell you from our experience working with injured workers and the families of fatally injured workers that accidents that cause injury or death can happen on any worksite or in any office. However, there are jobs that are more dangerous than others.

Here are the 10 most dangerous Jobs in America, based on the BLS national census of fatal occupational injuries in 2021, as updated this year.


 82.2 per 100,000 FTEs

Logging work is harvesting trees for lumber and other wood products. The work is primarily outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and often in isolated areas. Loggers use potentially dangerous equipment, such as chainsaws, and work at heights and around falling objects. There are about 53,700 logging workers in the U.S.

Fishermen and Fishing Workers

75.2 per 100,000 FTEs

Workers in the fishing industry do strenuous work, often under hazardous conditions, including on boats on open waters. Fishermen are in danger of injury from malfunctioning fishing gear, entanglement in fishing nets and gear, slippery decks, or large waves washing over the boat deck. Most fatalities in the fishing industry are from drowning.

Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

48.1 per 100,000 FTEs

Pilots and flight engineers who fly long-distance routes may experience fatigue and jetlag. Weather and the condition of the aircraft also pose unique hazards. Commercial pilot specialists, such as helicopter pilots and crop dusters, face dangers from low-altitude flying, including a higher risk of collision with power lines and birds. Crop dusters may be exposed to toxic chemicals, and typically use unimproved landing strips. Helicopter pilots involved in rescue operations regularly fly at low levels during bad weather or at night. There are about 119,200 pilots and flight engineers employed in the U.S.


59.0 per 100,000 FTEs

Roofing is physically demanding work done at heights and in very hot weather, which requires heavy lifting, climbing, bending and kneeling. Workers may fall from scaffolds, ladders or roofs. They may also be burned by hot tar, or heating equipment. Roofs can become extremely hot during the summer, which can cause heat-related illnesses. Proper safety precautions and equipment can prevent most accidents and fatalities.

Refuse and recyclable material collectors

27.9 per 100,000 FTEs

Sanitation workers, commonly referred to as trashmen, collect and dump refuse or recyclable materials from containers into a truck. In some cases, they may work with compacting machinery and/or conveyer-belt sorters. The work is physically demanding, including lifting, bending, kneeling, crouching, or crawl in awkward positions. Collectors of all kinds are exposed to crushing injuries from machinery, injuries from being struck by vehicles, and injuries from falling bundles or volumes of refuse or recyclable materials.

Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers

26.7 per 100,000 FTEs

Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers work outdoors around tractors, tools, livestock, and farm machinery that can cause serious injury. They handle toxic and caustic chemicals that can cause chemical burns or poisoning if mishandled.

Structural iron and steel workers

36.1 per 100,000 FTEs

Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges and roads. It is physically demanding and dangerous work, often performed at great heights and requiring workers to move, bend, reach and stoop. Ironworkers must wear safety harnesses to reduce the risk of falling. Work-related deaths are typically caused by falls and the impact of contact with objects and equipment.

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers

28.8 per 100,000 FTEs

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers pick up, transport, and drop off packages and small shipments, typically in a local or regional area. The job requires a lot of lifting, carrying and walking, as well as driving a truck for long periods. Most delivery driver fatalities are from motor vehicle accidents. When dropping off packages, delivery workers also may encounter vicious dogs that attack them.

Electrical power-line installers and repairers

25 deaths, 19.2 per 100,000 FTEs
Line workers install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics. Serious hazards on the job include working with high-voltage electricity, often at heights. The work is physically demanding. Line installers and repairers often work under challenging weather conditions, such as in snow, wind, rain and in extreme heat and cold, to conduct emergency repairs. Power lines are typically higher than telephone lines, increasing the risk of severe injury or death from a fall.

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

68 deaths, 18 per 100,000 FTEs

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs drive people to and from the places they need to go, such as homes, workplaces, airports and shopping centers. The job can be stressful, particularly for those who drive for long periods and/or in heavy traffic. Driving thousands of miles a year, taxi drivers and chauffeurs are more likely to be involved in car accidents. They deal with the public, which may include violent individuals representing the threat of assault. Many work late at night and are vulnerable to robberies and violent assaults.

Have you Lost a Loved One in a Workplace Fatality?

If an immediate family member of yours has died in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation survivor benefits. Contact Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law today for a discussion of your loss and the legal options available to you. We serve clients in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina. Call or contact us online today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Hardison & Cochran was established based on the conviction that a modern approach was essential in today’s legal landscape. Focused on delivering exceptional results through a skilled team, the firm prioritizes personal attention, integrity, and client needs. Each attorney, paralegal, and staff member is dedicated to this vision. Over three decades, with Ben Cochran overseeing daily operations, the firm has evolved into a highly respected practice.

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