The 34 most dangerous jobs in America

The most dangerous jobs in America had the highest rates of fatal injuries.

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The most dangerous jobs in America had the highest rates of fatal injuries.
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David McNew/Getty Images

  • Some of the most dangerous jobs have a much higher risk of fatal or non-fatal injuries than others.
  • Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found the 34 jobs that had the highest rates of fatal injuries in 2016.

Some jobs have a much higher risk of fatal or non-fatal injuries than others.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics documented how many people died on the job in 2016 for the equivalent of every 100,000 people who held that job.

To find the most dangerous jobs in America, we identified the jobs from the Bureau’s list with the highest fatal injury rate. Each of these jobs has a fatal injury rate above the national average for all workers of 3.6 per 100,000 full-time workers.

Overall, the greatest number of fatal work injuries resulted from transportation incidents, followed by violence or other injuries by persons or animals; falls, slips, and trips; and contact with objects and equipment.

Here are the 34 most dangerous jobs in America, along with their 2016 fatal and non-fatal injury rates per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, and a description of what workers in these jobs do from the Department of Labor’s O*NET careers database.


34. Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What they do: Lay out, install, or maintain pipes, plumbing, and sewer systems.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 4.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,629


33. Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers

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Justin Sullivan/Getty

What they do: Manually move freight, stock, or other materials or perform other general labor.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 5.2

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 3,068


31 (tie). Firefighters

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Justin Sullivan/Getty

What they do: Control and extinguish fires or respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 6.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 927


31 (tie). Industrial truck and tractor operators

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REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

What they do: Operate industrial trucks or tractors equipped to move materials around a warehouse, storage yard, factory, construction site, or similar location.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 6.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,063


30. Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

What they do: Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 6.2

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 824


29. Welding, soldering, and brazing workers

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Wikimedia

What they do: Use hand-welding, flame-cutting, hand soldering, or brazing equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 6.4

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,708


28. Automotive service technicians and mechanics

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Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

What they do: Diagnose, adjust, repair, or overhaul automotive vehicles.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 7.2

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,057


27. Carpenters

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mavo/Shutterstock.com

What they do: Construct, erect, install, or repair structures and fixtures made of wood.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 7.6

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,305


26. Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

What they do: Diagnose, adjust, repair, or overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engines.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 8.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,923


25. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What they do: Install or repair heating, central air conditioning, or refrigeration systems.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 8.4

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,620


24. Painters, construction and maintenance

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Reuters

What they do: Paint walls, equipment, buildings, bridges, and other structural surfaces.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 8.6

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,935


23. Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers

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REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

What they do: Install, maintain, and repair vehicles, industrial machinery, and electrical and electronic equipment.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 9.3

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 939


22. Electricians

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Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

What they do: Install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 10.0

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,388


21. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators

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Stephen Brashear/Getty

What they do: Operate one or several types of power construction equipment.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 10.6

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 674


20. Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers

What they do: Compete in athletic events, instruct or coach groups or individuals in the fundamentals of sports, or officiate at competitive athletic or sporting events.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 11.7

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 3,438


19. Telecommunications line installers and repairers

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REUTERS/ Amit Dave

What they do: Install and repair telecommunications cable, including fiber optics.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 12.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,680


17 (tie). First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers

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Paul Wishart / Shutterstock.com

What they do: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of workers engaged in landscaping or groundskeeping activities.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 13.2

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,319


17 (tie). Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

What they do: Drive automobiles, vans, or limousines to transport passengers.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 13.2

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,921


16. General maintenance and repair workers

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Tony Alter/Flickr

What they do: Perform work involving the skills of two or more maintenance or craft occupations to keep machines, mechanical equipment, or the structure of an establishment in repair.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 13.4

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,196


14 (tie). Electrical power-line installers and repairers

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Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images

What they do: Install or repair cables or wires used in electrical power or distribution systems.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 14.6

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,365


14 (tie). Police and sheriff’s patrol officers

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Brendan McDermid/Reuters

What they do: Maintain order and protect life and property by enforcing local, tribal, State, or Federal laws and ordinances.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 14.6

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,700


13. Construction laborers

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Mark Blinch/Reuters

What they do: Perform tasks involving physical labor at construction sites.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 15.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,961


12. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers

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Joerg Koch / Stringer / Getty Images

What they do: Directly supervise and coordinate the activities of mechanics, installers, and repairers.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 15.7

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 893


10 (tie). Miscellaneous agricultural workers

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Justin Sullivan/Getty

What they do: Work on farms or other agricultural businesses.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 17.4

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,316


10 (tie). Grounds maintenance workers

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REUTERS/John Sommers II

What they do: Maintain grounds of property using hand or power tools or equipment.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 17.4

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,243


9. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers

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Rogers O’Brien Construction

What they do: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of construction or extraction workers.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 18.0

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 1,060


8. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

What they do: Plan, direct, or coordinate the management or operation of farms or other agricultural establishments.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 23.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 28


7. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers

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Bianca Riedl/Holding Graz/Wikimedia Commons

What they do: Drive truck or other vehicle over established routes or within an established territory and sell or deliver goods.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 24.7

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,828


6. Structural iron and steel workers

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Bill Jacobus/Flickr

What they do: Raise, place, and unite iron or steel girders, columns, and other structural members to form completed structures or structural frameworks.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 25.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,158


5. Refuse and recyclable material collectors

What they do: Collect and dump refuse or recyclable materials from containers into truck.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 34.1

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,702


4. Roofers

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Flickr / Anthony Spratt

What they do: Cover roofs of structures with shingles, slate, asphalt, aluminum, wood, or related materials.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 48.6

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 3,257


3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers

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Air Canada

What they do: Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 55.5

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 466


2. Fishers and related fishing workers

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Corey Arnold/Fish-Work: Bering Sea

What they do: Use nets, fishing rods, traps, or other equipment to catch and gather fish or other aquatic animals

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 86.0

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): Not released


1. Logging workers

The most dangerous jobs in America had the highest rates of fatal injuries.

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David McNew/Getty Images

What they do: Use mechanized equipment or hand tools to cut down trees.

Fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 135.9

Non-fatal injury rate (per 100,000 workers): 2,449