Special Report

25 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

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25. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 8.4 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 37 fatal injuries, 6,830 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips
> Median annual wage: $45,910

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers often work in conditions that may lead to both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Such conditions include extreme temperatures of the heating and cooling systems they need to repair and cramped spaces. Dangerous environments and contact with harmful substances account for 27% of all fatal workplace injuries. However, the most common deadly accidents are falls, slips, and trips, which account for about 30% of all fatal injuries.

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24. Painters, construction and maintenance
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 8.6 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 50 fatal injuries, 3,530 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips
> Median annual wage: $37,570

Painters who work in construction and maintenance apply paint, stain, and coating to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures. Painters who work on bridges and buildings may be suspended by ropes or cables, often at extreme heights. In 2016, 50 construction and maintenance painters died from injuries sustained while on the job. Over half of those deaths were the result of falls.

Falls were also the most common cause of nonfatal injury among maintenance and construction painters — accounting for 63.7% of all nonfatal injuries. Many painters also sustained injuries from exposure to irritants such as drywall dust.

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23. Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 9.3 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 45 fatal injuries, 4,490 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Struck by object
> Median annual wage: $49,080

Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers work on factory equipment such as conveying system, production machinery, and packaging equipment. One of the most dangerous jobs, industrial machinery installers and repair workers are often required to follow safety precautions and wear protective equipment such as hardhats, safety glasses, and steel-toed shoes. For every 100,000 full time workers in the field in 2016, approximately nine died from an injury incurred on the job, more than twice the national rate of 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 U.S. workers.

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22. Electricians
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 10.0 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 79 fatal injuries, 7,790 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Falls, slips, and trips
> Median annual wage: $52,720

Electricians install, maintain, and repair power, communications, lighting, and control systems in nearly every type of facility. Common accidents for electricians include electrical shocks, falls, and burns. Electricians may also be required to work in cramped spaces, standing or kneeling for long period of times. Some 14.6% of nonfatal occupational injuries in the profession in 2016 resulted in fractures — far higher than the comparable 8.5% national share. About 1.0% of injuries incurred on the job are fatal, twice the 0.5% national average. For every 100,000 electricians in 2016, 10 died from occupational injuries, nearly three times the national rate.

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21. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 10.6 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 39 fatal injuries, 4,750 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction
> Median annual wage: $45,890

Construction is a relatively dangerous industry, and those who operate construction equipment are not much safer than others on the site. There were nearly 11 deaths for every 100,000 full-time engineers and equipment operators in 2016 — fewer than the 15 deaths per 100,000 among construction laborers the same year but still among the most of any job.

Nonfatal injuries among engineers and equipment operators also tend to be serious. Over half of all nonfatal injuries in the field in 2016 were either sprains or tears, fractures, punctures, or lacerations. Such nonfatal injuries typically resulted in 17 days out of work — far more time than the comparable time for most occupations.

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