Going by the sheer number of on-the-job deaths, the truck drivers and sales drivers classification was by far the most dangerous, accounting for nearly 1,000 (987) deaths in 2017. However, the chances of a fatality are much higher in specific industries when the fatal work injury rate, calculated per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, is used. According to a recent report in EHS Today, the ten most dangerous jobs of 2019 are:
No. 1 – Fishers and related fishing workers
Moving up from number 2 to become the most dangerous profession, fishers and related fishing workers experienced 41 fatalities in 2017, an increase of almost 58% from 2016. The fatality rate was 99.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Risks: drowning, struck by lightning, crushed by equipment.
No. 2 – Loggers
Falling from the most-dangerous profession to number 2, loggers experienced 55 fatalities, a drop of almost 65% from 91 fatalities in 2016 for a fatality rate of 84.3. Risks: falls, struck-by, dangerous tools such as chainsaws and axes.
No. 3 – Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Pilots and flight engineers experienced 59 fatalities in 2017 for a fatality rate of 58.6, a drop from 2016. Risks: crashes.
No. 4 – Roofers
Roofers experienced 91 fatalities in 2017 for a fatality rate of 45.2, slightly lower than in 2016. Risks: falls, struck-by, and heat.
No. 5 – Refuse and recyclable material collectors
Refuse and recyclable material collectors experienced 30 fatalities in 2017 for a fatality rate of 35.0, very similar to 2016. Risks: dangerous machinery, crushed by equipment, struck-by, traffic accidents, struck by vehicle.
No. 6 – Structural iron and steel workers
Steel and ironworkers experienced 14 fatalities in 2017 for a fatality rate of 33.4, a slight decrease from 2016. Risks: falls, struck-by, heat, crushed by materials.
No. 7 – Truck drivers and other drivers
Employees who drive for work – including truck drivers – experienced 987 fatalities in 2017 for a fatality rate of 26.8 out of 100,000 workers, which was higher than in 2016. Risks: traffic accidents, struck by vehicle, other drivers, construction zones, sleep deprivation, texting/talking while driving.
No. 8 – Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers
Agricultural workers experienced 258 fatalities in 2017 for a fatality rate of 24.0 out of 100,000 workers, very similar to 2016. Risks: dangerous machinery, chemicals, heat.
No. 9 – Grounds maintenance workers
Grounds maintenance workers experienced 244 fatalities in 2017 for a fatality rate of 21.0, a decline from 2016. Risks: heat, cold, noise, chemical exposure, ergonomics-related issues, machinery.
No. 10 – Electrical power-line installers and repairers
New to the list, electrical power-line installers and repairers experienced 26 fatalities for a fatality rate of 18.7. Risks: electrocution, falls to a lower level, transportation incidents.
Supervisors of construction workers (which ranked at #9 last year), fell off the list of the top 10.
Other key findings:
- There were a total of 5,147 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2017, down slightly from the 5,190 that were registered in 2016.
- Fatal falls were at their highest level in the 26-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), accounting for 887 (17 percent) worker deaths.
- Transportation incidents remained the most frequent fatal event in 2017 with 2,077 (40 percent) occupational fatalities.
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animals decreased 7 percent in 2017 with homicides and suicides decreasing by 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
- Unintentional overdoses due to non-medical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased 25 percent from 217 in 2016 to 272 in 2017. This was the fifth consecutive year in which unintentional workplace overdose deaths have increased by at least 25 percent.
- Fatal occupational injuries involving confined spaces rose 15 percent to 166 in 2017 from 144 in 2016.
- Crane-related workplace fatalities fell to their lowest level ever recorded in CFOI, 33 deaths in 2017.
- Fifteen percent of the fatally-injured workers in 2017 were age 65 or over – a series high. In 1992, the first year CFOI published national data, that figure was 8 percent. These workers also had a higher fatality rate than other age groups in 2017.
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