18 Most Hazardous Jobs in the US

Every industry comes with its own set of unique risks and rewards. However, some careers are much more dangerous than others. We’ve compiled a list of the 18 most hazardous lines of work in the U.S.

Construction

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With the highest rate of deaths of all U.S. industries in 2022, construction tops our list. Workers in this field are faced with a high risk of falls, equipment accidents, and potential exposure to harmful substances. Some of the industry’s most common causes of death are falls from great heights and being struck by falling objects.

Education and Health Services

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You may be surprised to see education and health services high on this list. However, while deaths are not so common in the industry, workers are prone to nonfatal injuries and illnesses. This was especially true in recent years, as healthcare practitioners were frequently exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting

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Agriculture is another highly dangerous industry, with risks including machinery accidents, environmental hazards, and exposure to harmful substances and chemicals. Transportation incidents make up a large number of fatalities in the industry.

Transportation and Warehousing

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We all know that the roads can be a dangerous place, so it should come as no surprise that transportation workers are at a higher risk of injury and death than others. Some of the most common causes of death include vehicle accidents and heavy cargo handling.

Roofing

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Roofing is not an industry for the faint of heart, often involving long hours working at great heights. Unsurprisingly, the most common cause of death in this industry is falling from high places such as roofs or ladders.

Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

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You might be concerned to see aircraft pilots on this list, but it may be relieving to hear that deaths in this industry rarely occur during commercial flights. Most fatal incidents occur in crashes of privately owned planes and helicopters. The fatal injury rate for aircraft pilots and flight engineers is 48.1 per 100,000 workers.

Structural Iron and Steel Workers

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Structural iron and steel workers are at a higher risk of fatality due to their dangerous work environments. People in this industry must commonly climb and work on high structures, which they sometimes fatally fall from.

Drivers/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers

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Like transportation workers, drivers and truck drivers are more prone to deaths through traffic crashes and road accidents. These workers must also often handle heavy cargo, which can lead to harmful workplace accidents.

Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

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Recycling is a noble cause, but unfortunately, it still comes with its own risks for workers in this industry. Refuse and recyclable material collectors have a heightened risk of being struck and potentially killed by garbage trucks and other vehicles.

Underground Mining Machine Operators

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Miners have historically been known for their proneness to workplace accidents and deaths. While the industry has come a long way in terms of health and safety, it remains one of the more dangerous careers. In 2021, the fatality rate was 14.2 per 100,000 workers.

Construction Trade Helpers

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Another industry with a high risk of fatal falls is construction trade helpers and laborers. These workers must assist trade workers in a variety of potentially dangerous construction activities, sometimes resulting in injuries and deaths from trips and falls.

Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers

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Electrical power-line installers and repair workers are at a heightened risk of both falls and electrocution, making it a fairly dangerous line of work. These employees have a fatal injury rate of about 23.7 per 100,000 workers, with exposure to harmful substances being one of the most common causes of death.

Crane and Tower Operators

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We’ve already established the dangers inherent in working with vehicles and machinery, so you won’t be surprised to hear that crane and tower operators are also high on our list. The industry saw a fatal injury rate of 20 per 100,000 workers in 2021.

Oil and Gas Workers

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Oil and gas workers must often work in potentially dangerous environments involving harmful substances and machinery. The fatal work injury rate was about 21.4 per 100,000 in 2021, with many deaths occurring during transportation incidents.

Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers

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Like many of the other workers on our list, elevator and escalator installers and repairers must work with potentially dangerous machinery and are at a heightened risk of falls. The fatal work injury rate stood at 21.6 per 100,000 workers in 2021.

Excavating and Loading Machine Operators

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Those who decide to go into the excavating industry are faced with the inherent risks involved in operating mining machinery. The death rate in this industry was about 21.9 per 100,000 workers in 2021, making it one of the most hazardous industries in the U.S.

Maintenance Workers, Machinery

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Maintenance workers are in charge of maintaining and repairing machinery, which can become dangerous at times. The fatal work injury rate in this industry was 22.2 per 100,000 in 2021, with many deaths occurring due to falls, slips, and trips.

Audiovisual Equipment Installers and Repairers

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This may seem like a strange one to see on the list, but audiovisual equipment installers and repairers are actually quite prone to injury. Their fatal work injury rate is higher than many others, at 22.6 per 100,000 in 2021, with prominent risks including electrical hazards and working at great heights.

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