The Most Dangerous Jobs in the US: What Are the Safety Options?

Most dangerous jobs in the US

Every day, many professionals go to work, putting their lives at risk. But what are the most dangerous jobs in the US? We have evaluated and identified some of the most dangerous jobs, based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Read on to find some intriguing insights from the study and learn about the most dangerous jobs in America.

Insights into the Most Dangerous Jobs & Safety Measures

We looked at professions with at least 50,000 workers to find the 25 most dangerous jobs out of 263 professions. The fatality rate was normalized by adjusting the number of fatalities by employment for each profession. As a result, we found that some jobs are significantly more dangerous than others. For example, logging, which is considered to be the most dangerous job in the US, is about 33% more high-risk than an average job. 

Another important aspect of our review revolves around self-employed workers. The data shows that self-employed workers are 3.3 times more likely to die on the job as compared to salaries or hourly workers. The statistics are alarming and indicate the need for enhanced safety options.

What are the Most Dangerous Jobs in the US?

Wondering what the most dangerous jobs in the US are? We will get to that in a bit. First, it is important to understand that regardless of the levels of risks involved, there are always ways to mitigate risks and provide a more secure environment for workers.  

While a certain degree is always present, job-relevant preventative safety measures can significantly reduce health and safety risks for workers. For example, individuals working in the gas and mining industry can benefit from confined space rescue support. Similarly, safety watchers and regular inspections can ensure maximum safety for crane operators, cement masons, construction helpers, and several other workers across industries.

Without further ado – here are the 25 most dangerous jobs in the USA.  

1. Logging Workers

Logging workers harvest forests to extract raw materials for paper, cardboard, wood, and numerous other items. They spend most of their working hours in the forest, handling heavy machinery and hefty logs. Unfortunately, logging ranks first on the list of most dangerous jobs, with a fatality rate of 111 deaths per 100,000 workers. Regular equipment inspections and extensive training programs can help minimize the fatality rate.

2. Aircraft Pilots  

Aircraft pilots navigate and fly a number of commercial and private aircraft, including airplanes, helicopters, and private jets. With 53 deaths per 100,000 workers, the fatality rate is significantly high. The majority of fatal accidents occur with private aircraft as compared to commercial airplanes. Typically, the pilot is responsible for checking the aircraft prior to take off, communicate with air traffic control, and monitor the aircraft during flight.  

3. Derrick Operators

Derrick operators are employed across different industries, including oil, gas, and mining. The job entails setting, maintaining, and operating derrick and drill equipment to mine for materials and extract oil and gas. The derrick is the structure assembled above the well to hold the drill and other equipment, such as pumps.

Derrick workers may also be required to work in confined spaces that come with perils of their own. The lack of safety protocols in most cases makes derrick handling one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. The on-job fatality rate is 46 deaths per 100,000 workers. Confined Space Rescue Support and EHS Services can make a big difference in this regard, ensuring safer working conditions.   

4. Roofers

Roofers install, repair, or replace roofs on homes and buildings. Their job involves using ladders and other climbing equipment to move roofing material onto the roofs and securing it in place. In this profession, the most common reasons for on-job deaths include slipping or falling off roofs or ladders. The fatal injury rate is about 41 deaths per 100,000 workers.

5. Garbage Collectors

One might think that the risk involved in garbage collection may be attributed to the handling and management of garbage and waste materials. However, the most common cause for fatal injuries in this profession is being struck by a garbage truck or other vehicles while on the job. The fatal injury rate is as high as 34 injuries per 100,000 workers. These individuals spend most of their working hours on the road, driving through different neighborhoods. Consequently, the risk of vehicular incidents is high.

6. Structural Iron & Steel Workers

Structural iron and steel workers are responsible for installing metal on buildings, roads, and bridges. Their job includes climbing large structures, moving loads of iron and steel, signaling cranes and other heavy machinery workers, shaping, cutting, and welding metal, and more.

The most common fatal accidents involve falling and slipping. The fatal injury rate is about 29 injuries per 100,000 workers. The on-job fatality rate can be reduced by incorporating the services of EHS professionals and safety watchers.   

7. Delivery Drivers  

Delivery drivers spend most of their time on the road, transporting goods and deliveries from one place to another. Their job also includes loading and unloading trucks, collecting payments, and processing paperwork. Road accidents are the leading cause of death for delivery drivers. The fatal injury rate is about 27 per 100,000 workers.

8. Farmers

Farming is not a simple job, and farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers are always at risk associated with transportation accidents. A farmer’s job may involve producing crops and raising livestock for food. They work with numerous tools and equipment. Once the agricultural products are ready, they deliver them to open markets. Surprisingly, delivery is the most dangerous part of the process as most fatal injuries are associated with tractor crashes.    

9. Firefighting Supervisors

A firefighting supervisor’s job is filled with risks. They are responsible for supervising and coordinating firefighter work, including control and prevention of fire. They are responsible for training firefighters, communicating and dispatching fire trucks, evaluating fires, and maintaining firefighting equipment. The most common causes of on-job deaths include traffic accidents, fires, and explosions.

 10. Power Linemen

Electrical power-line installers and repairers, more commonly known as power linemen, are responsible for installing and repairing power lines. These overhead or underground electrical lines supply electricity to commercial and residential areas. Power linemen drive equipment to job sites and climb electrical poles to test, install, and maintain electrical equipment.

The fatal injury rate is 20 per 100,000 workers. The most common cause of death in this field is electrocution. Risks can be mitigated by taking the right preventative measures and employing the services of certified safety professionals. EHS services can help save numerous precious lives.

 11. Agricultural Workers   

Agricultural employees tend to crops and cattle. Their job may include planting, harvesting, and watering crops, as well as maintaining irrigation systems and ditches. They also operate farm machinery and apply pesticides and fertilizers. Agricultural workers who work with livestock may also be in charge of feeding and caring for the animals. These tasks are more dangerous than most people would imagine. The fatal injury rate is 20 per 100,000 workers, and the most common cause of injuries is attributed to transportation accidents.

 12. Crossing Guards

Crossing guards are in charge of maintaining the flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic at crosswalks, crossings, schools, and other locations where pedestrians and automobiles collide. They often stop cars and assist pedestrians in safely navigating crossings and crossroads. Crossing guards also guide traffic using hand signals, signs, or flags. Unfortunately, spending a considerable part of the day in the road does not come without risk. The fatal injury rate for crossing guards is about 19 per 100,000 workers. The most common reason behind fatal injuries is road accidents.

 13. Crane Operators

Crane and tower operators use cranes and other lifting equipment to move commodities, machines, and other objects. They are frequently seen at construction sites, where they move building materials to higher levels of a structure, or at ports, where they unload containers from ships. Crane operators are most commonly killed when their cranes collide with or are struck by other vehicles. The fatal injury rate is considerably high at 19 per 100,000 workers. However, EHS services can be employed to ensure better safety and prevent fatal accidents at construction sites. It will not only reduce risks for crane operators but all individuals working at the construction site.

 14. Construction Helpers

Construction helpers are laborers and workers that assist tradespeople during the construction process. They take different job roles, including contractors for building equipment, finishing contractors, foundation and exterior contractors, and more. Falls and trips on construction sites are the leading causes of death for these workers. The fatal injury rate is found to be 18 per 100,000 workers. Once again, hiring experienced safety specialists can help avoid fatal incidents and save lives.

 15. Landscaping Supervisor

Landscape supervisors are in charge of supervising and coordinating the work of landscapers, lawn maintenance workers, and groundskeepers. They are responsible for overseeing landscaping projects, enforcing workplace rules, inspecting work, and instructing workers on suitable landscaping techniques. Unfortunately, falls and trips are the leading cause of mortality among landscape workers. As a result, this job ranks fifteenth on the scale of most dangerous jobs in the US, with a fatal injury rate of 18 per 100,000 workers.

 16. Highway Maintenance Workers

Highway maintenance employees are responsible for keeping highways, roads, freeways, runways, and other forms of roads in good working order. They may be required to patch potholes, repair damaged rails and fences, replace and repaint road markings, and remove snow and ice. Repairing road signage, maintaining roadside shrubbery, and resurfacing roads are some of the other jobs that these individuals do. The most common reason for on-job deaths in these workers is vehicular accidents that occur on the highway. The fatal injury rate is 18 per 100,000 workers.

 17. Cement Masons

Cement masons are skilled in doing finishing and smoothing work for poured concrete, which can be used for roads, sidewalks, flooring, or other concrete applications. These workers align concrete forms using hand and power tools to ensure that the concrete is smooth and long-lasting. However, working with concrete comes with its downfalls. The fatal injury rate is 17 per 100,000 for these workers. Falls are the leading cause of fatality among cement masons. However, as cement masons often work at construction sites, they can benefit from the services of technical rescue support, EHS professionals, and safety watches.

 18. Engine Mechanics

Small engine mechanics work on lawnmower engines, motorboat engines, and motorbike engines, among other things. These technicians typically work in repair shops, but they also spend a substantial amount of time performing service repairs in the field in the event of a breakdown. The most common cause of mortality for these technicians is transportation accidents, leading to a fatal injury rate of 8 per 100,000.

 19. Supervisors of Mechanics

Individuals supervising mechanics, installers, and repairers are in charge of coordinating the schedules and overseeing the work and performance. They may also be required to provide training and inspect work to verify that it complies with industry standards. Supervisors may also be in charge of procuring supplies and equipment, such as tools and spare parts. Unfortunately, the seemingly safe and secure job is on the list of most dangerous jobs in the US. The fatal injury rate is 15 per 100,000 workers. The leading cause of fatal injuries is violence by other people or injuries due to animal attacks.

 20. Heavy Vehicle Mechanics

Tractors, bulldozers, and cranes are among some of the heavy equipment that heavy vehicle mechanics are required to maintain and repair. Their job includes examining examine the equipment, running diagnostics tests, performing planned maintenance, replacing faulty parts, and executing other tasks to ensure that it is in good working order.

Transportation accidents are the most common cause of mortality for these mechanics. Plus, on-site accidents can also lead to fatal injuries. The fatal injury rate for these workers is about 14 per 100,000. Like most other individuals performing duties near or at construction sites, heavy vehicle mechanics can also benefit from the services of EHS professionals and safety watchers.

 21. Ground Maintenance Workers

Grounds maintenance workers keep parks, businesses, and residential grounds clean and well-kept. Maintaining grasses and lawns, getting rid of weeds, trimming trees, bushes, and shrubs, watering plants, and raking leaves are just a few of the responsibilities of ground maintenance workers. The most common cause of mortality for groundskeepers is car accidents, which commonly occur when they are traveling between job sites. The fatal injury rate is 14 per 100,000 workers. In 2018, the total number of deaths hiked to 225.

 22. Police Officers

Police officers enforce the law, protect lives and property, and keep the peace. Their job entails patrolling different areas, arresting suspects, and investigating crimes. Naturally, their job is not without risks, which is why they are included in the list of most dangerous jobs in the US. There is no surprise that violence is the leading cause of fatality among police officers on the job. The fatal injury rate is 14 per 100,000.  

 23. Maintenance Workers

Building maintenance workers fix machines and mechanical equipment and perform routine maintenance on buildings. These workers may repair appliances, plumbing, electrical systems, and other machines in homes, apartments, or businesses. They may also be in charge of setting up or building new equipment, doing routine maintenance, and ordering parts and supplies. The most common cause of workplace death for maintenance workers is cited as contact with objects and equipment. The fatal injury rate is 14 per 100,000 workers.

 24. Construction Workers

At construction sites, construction workers provide physical labor for construction activities. Unloading building materials, erecting scaffolding, excavating trenches, and operating other construction machines are some of the duties that these people perform during an average day at work.

They may also spend time cleaning building sites, either before or after the project is completed. Unfortunately, high risks are involved in the job. Moreover, many times safety regulations are ignored or not properly followed, resulting in ill-fated accidents and the loss of precious lives.

The most common cause of death in the United States is tripping and falling, and the fatal injury rate is 13 per 100,000. However, risks can be mitigated, and a safer working environment can be provided by hiring the services of technical rescue support, EHS professionals, and safety watches.

 25. Mining Machine Operators

Mining machine operators operate a variety of equipment to extract rock, coal, metals, and other hard commodities from mines. Extracting commodities is only half the job. They are also required to place the extracted materials onto conveyors that transport them out of the mines. The working conditions in the mines are often hazardous. As a result, on-job deaths are not uncommon in this line of work. The most common reasons for fatal accidents include falls and contact with mining machinery. The fatal injury rate is about 11 per 100,000 workers.  

The Bottom Line: EHS, Technical Field, & Safety Compliance Services Can Save Lives

After going through the list of most dangerous jobs in the US, one thing is evident: The risk of injury at the workplace is always present. However, it is important to understand that types of risks vary from job to job. Therefore, it requires different preventative measures to enhance safety at each type of job.  

The statistics reveal that derrick operators in oil, gas, and mining, ironworkers, power linemen, crane operators, construction helpers, cement masons, construction workers, and mining machine operators are all working extremely high-risk jobs. However, the good news is that risks are mitigated by closely working with EHS professionals and incorporating benefits from the services of technical rescue support and safety watches to reduce the chances of injury.

These workers can benefit greatly from EHS services on multiple fronts, especially when working as part of a building or construction project. For example, many times, fires break out at sites due to appliance malfunctions, risking the lives of the maintenance workers as well as other individuals on the site. In such cases, an attendant safety watcher, such as fire watchers, can help mitigate the risks and keep everyone safe.

On the other hand, EHS services can ensure compliance with safety rules and regulations to bring down related risks. Confined space rescue support can help save lives by providing immediate and effective escape plans and even medical aid in some cases. For all these reasons, companies and employers need to invest in these services to ensure a safe working environment.

DCS Rescue can help in this regard. We are a division of Ancon, providing full-service confined space rescue, EHS technical field, and safety compliance services. Visit the DCS website to learn more about our services.




U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates