Throughout 2020, Americans gained a new appreciation for many previously overlooked laborers, as those delivering food, stocking shelves and working cash registers were deemed essential workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yet, even before COVID-19, millions of Americans were working very dangerous jobs that make daily life possible. In 2019, 5,333 American workers were killed on the job. Nearly 3,000 of these injuries were suffered by workers in just 25 different career fields. In these career fields, workers are more than twice as likely to die on the job as the typical worker, making them the most dangerous jobs in the country.
To determine the most dangerous job in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed fatal injury rates for dozens of occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program. These occupations were ranked based on the number of fatal injuries in 2019 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. A full-time equivalent workers figure was calculated using the number of hours worked in a particular job divided by the hours that would be equivalent to working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks in a year. The occupations we reviewed were based on the number of fatal injuries in 2019 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
The majority of the most dangerous careers fall into three Bureau of Labor Statistics categories: farming, fishing and forestry; construction and extraction; and installation, maintenance and repair. These fields often require workers to use heavy machinery, as well as work with dangerous animals and potentially hazardous chemicals.
Based on the data, fishing and hunting work ranked as the most dangerous job in America for 2019. This career field had 145 fatal injuries for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, more than double any other job. Most of the 44 fatal injuries sustained by these workers in 2019 were transportation injuries. There were 50 nonfatal injuries, as well. Fishing workers are sometimes thrown overboard or work on boats that capsize miles offshore.