Most Dangerous Jobs 2011


Some jobs are tough, some can be deadly. Some jobs are stressful, but exposure to dangerous situations and hostile environments can contribute significantly to the chance of a fatal on-the-job accident.

An average of 12 workers die on the job every day. According to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 4,547 lives were lost on the job in 2010, about the same as the previous year, which had a final count of 4,551. The total is down from 5,214 in 2008.

The BLS attributes this overall reduction to declines in employment and slow growth in total hours worked in some historically high-risk industries.

The rate of fatal work injuries for U.S. workers in 2010 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time employees.

Mining and police work saw increases in work-related fatalities last year. Disasters at a U.S. coal mine and aboard an oil rig operated by BP pushed mining up the list to 172 fatalities in 2010 from 99 the previous year. Fatalities among police officers jumped 40 percent to 134 in 2010 from 96 a year earlier.

As for causes, deaths from fires more than doubled to 109 in 2010 from 53 the previous year, the highest count since 2003. So, what are the deadliest jobs in the country? Read ahead to find out.

10. Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers

Fatality rate: 21.8/100,000
Total deaths: 683
Annual mean salary: $40,410

Truck drivers travel long distances for many hours, increasing the likelihood of highway accidents.

9. Refuse and Recycling Collectors

Fatality rate: 29.8/100,000
Total deaths: 26
Annual mean salary: $34,310

Despite more comprehensive safety measures that have helped to lower the fatality rate since 2006, garbage collectors are still exposed to harmful chemicals and dangerous machinery.

8. Roofers

Fatality rate: 32.4/100,000
Total deaths: 57
Annual mean salary: $37,880

Falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs are the main cause of fatal accidents in this occupation.

7. Mining Machine Operators

Fatality rate: 38.7/100,000
Total deaths: 23
Annual mean salary: $44,010

Mining machine operators work with machines that rip the coal, metal, and rock from the mine and then load it onto conveyors. Because they are working in tunnels and mine shafts, the dangers include the possibility of a cave-in, mine fires, explosions, or exposure to harmful gases.

6. Coal Miners

Fatality rate: 38.9/100,000
Total deaths: 43
Annual mean salary: $43,240

Coal miners face the same dangers as mining machine operators: the possibility of cave-in, mine fires, explosions, or exposure to harmful gases. In addition, dust generated from drilling places miners at risk for developing lung diseases.

5. Farmers and Ranchers

Fatality rate: 41.4/100,000
Total deaths: 300
Annual mean salary: $42,710

Farming and ranching may sound tame, but working with heavy machinery, harmful chemicals, and large animals makes this job especially dangerous.

4. Miscellaneous Extraction Workers

Fatality rate: 64.2/100,000
Total deaths: 26
Annual mean salary: $43,870
(Note: Salary includes construction and extraction occupations.)

Extraction workers examine and inspect work progress, equipment, and construction sites to verify safety and to ensure that specifications are met. The tasks of extraction workers involve physical labor while overseeing highway and heavy-construction projects, tunnel and shaft excavations, and demolition sites. Use of heavy power tools and exposure to hazardous materials contribute to the danger of this job.

3. Pilots and Flight Engineers

Fatality rate: 70.6/100,000
Total deaths: 78
Annual mean salary: $115,300

Particularly at risk of fatal injuries are test pilots who fly new or experimental planes, crop-duster pilots who may be exposed to harmful chemicals, and those who operate rescue helicopters.

2. Logging Workers

Fatality rate: 91.9/100,000
Total deaths: 59
Annual mean salary: $34,510

Responsible for cutting and hauling trees, logging workers can suffer mortal injury from falling branches and heavy machinery. Bad weather is also a contributing factor.

1. Fishing-Related Workers

Fatality rate: 116/100,000
Total deaths: 29
Annual mean salary: $27,880

This group is at risk of getting entangled in nets and other gear, or getting swept overboard. Additionally, injured workers are far from medical attention.

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