Special Report

25 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

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20. Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 11.7 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 29 fatal injuries, 4,250 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction
> Median annual wage: $31,440

Few would likely find it surprising that injuries are relatively common in the field of professional sports. More surprising is the likelihood of an injury resulting in a fatality. Athletes, coaches, and umpires are at greater risk of a fatal injury than the vast majority of workers in the United States. There were 11.7 deaths in professional sports for every 100,000 full-time athletes and coaches in 2016 — a higher rate than in all but 19 other jobs.

Many fatalities in the industry likely occur during dangerous and extreme sporting events. For example, about 40% of deaths on the job in 2016 involved motorized off-road vehicles.

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19. Telecommunications line installers and repairers
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 12.1 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 21 fatal injuries, 2,480 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction
> Median annual wage: $52,590

In 2016, 12.1 in every 100,000 full-time telecommunications line installers and repairers died on the job, more than three times the national rate of 3.6 occupational fatalities per every 100,000 U.S. workers. Workers who install and repair telecommunication lines often perform their jobs in dangerous heights. While falls, slips, and trips accounted for 29% of all fatalities for telecommunications line installers and repairers, car accidents accounted for 43% of all fatalities in the profession.

While just 0.8% of on the job injuries resulted in death, telecommunications line installers and repairmen suffer more serious nonfatal injuries than most U.S. workers. The typical injury in 2016 required 36 days off to recover, four times the national median.

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18. First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 13.2 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 30 fatal injuries, 1,320 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction
> Median annual wage: $45,740

Grounds maintenance work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, and on-site managers are not much safer. There were 13.2 fatalities for every 100,000 full-time supervisors of landscaping and groundskeeping workers in 2016 — while slightly fewer than the 17.4 per 100,000 fatality rate among groundskeepers, still among the most dangerous jobs. Such jobs frequently require the use of powerful — and often sharp — machinery such as chainsaws and tractors. Not surprisingly, one-third of all deaths on the job are the result of unintended contact with objects and equipment.

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17. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 13.2 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 60 fatal injuries, 2,730 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Roadway incidents
> Median annual wage: $24,300

Whether people realize it or not, getting into a car is one of the most dangerous things people do every day. Some Americans, namely those working as taxi drivers and chauffeurs, spend half of their waking hours behind the wheel during the work week. There were 13.2 deaths on the job for every 100,000 full-time taxi drivers and chauffeurs in 2017.

In addition to the inherent risks of collisions on the roadway, taxi drivers also need to worry about potential altercations with their clients — who in most cases are complete strangers. Some 43.3% of workplace deaths for full-time taxi drivers and chauffeurs in 2016 were attributable to violence at the hands of another individual. Half of all deaths were roadway collisions.

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16. Maintenance and repair workers, general
> Fatal injuries in 2016: 13.4 per 100,000 workers
> Total: 75 fatal injuries, 27,900 nonfatal injuries
> Most common accident: Overexertion and bodily reaction
> Median annual wage: $36,940

General maintenance and repair workers often work on multiple tasks throughout a single day — which can include fixing mechanical equipment, repairing flooring, and working on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning systems. Repairers often work in uncomfortable and cramped positions, and they are at a greater than typical risk of suffering electrical shocks, falls, cuts, and bruises.

Falls, slips, and trips account for 45% of all fatal injuries in the profession, the most of any type of accident. Nonfatal injuries, however, are far more common. General maintenance repair workers suffered 13 fatalities and 5,110 nonfatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2016, each among the most of any profession per capita.

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