When we think of the most dangerous jobs, our minds often drift to high-action roles, like police officers or firefighters. However, statistical data paints a different, more nuanced picture.
It’s not uncommon to hear discussions about the perils of patrolling the streets. However, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sheds light on the occupations that statistically face higher risks daily, and they might not be the ones you’re thinking of.
The Real Most Dangerous Jobs in America
Various blue-collar roles often go unnoticed in their level of peril.
For example, mechanics – both supervisors and those specializing in heavy vehicles – face significant challenges in their workplaces. Heavy vehicle mechanics, dealing with substantial machinery like bulldozers and tractors, confront transportation incidents frequently, with many hazards stemming from the machines they’re entrusted to service.
It’s not just the machinery-oriented jobs that bear these dangers. Those who maintain our public and private spaces, grounds maintenance workers, also navigate risks. Their tasks might appear benign – manicuring lawns, trimming trees, and tending to parks – but their fatal injury rate is on par with heavy vehicle mechanics. Surprisingly, transportation incidents are their predominant threat.
Moreover, general maintenance workers and construction laborers experience considerable hazards. Accidental contact with objects, equipment malfunctions, and falls from significant heights are everyday threats they navigate, often without the same public acknowledgment of their risks.
Perspective on Peril
When juxtaposed with police officers’ fatal injury rate of 14 per 100,000 workers, it becomes evident that several other occupations face equal or even greater threats. The BLS data brings forth an intriguing perspective: while the dangers of law enforcement are well-publicized and recognized, many other workers face similar or heightened risks in relative obscurity.
So the real most dangerous jobs?
- Logging workers
- Airline pilot and flight engineers
- Derrick operators in oil and gas
- Garbage collectors
- Iron workers
- Delivery drivers
Even crossing guards rank higher on the deadly jobs list than police officers, which come in at #22. And it’s not that having the 22nd most dangerous job isn’t dangerous – it certainly is. The issue is we don’t often appreciate the extent to which the people who collect our trash or deliver our packages also put their lives on the line every day when they head to work.
Behind the Numbers
The BLS’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries is a treasure trove for understanding the nuances of workplace fatalities. This analysis spotlighted 263 professions, each boasting a workforce of at least 50,000 individuals.
To determine the fatal injury rate, fatalities were compared to the number of roles in that occupation. The average from 2014-2018 was then calculated to minimize the influence of yearly variations.
Information regarding the predominant causes of fatal accidents was extracted from this comprehensive census. Simultaneously, salary insights came from the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey.
Recognizing the latent dangers in these professions accentuates the importance of proper safety training and practices. It’s important to acknowledge the sacrifices and challenges faced by these unsung heroes in our everyday lives.
So, the next time you see a mechanic working under a vehicle, a roofer working on a house, or your local trash collector, take a moment to appreciate their dedication and the risks they take daily.