In 2017 there were 5,147 accidental deaths in the American workplace. This figure is slightly down from 2016’s 5,190 deaths, but is still close to the highest annual total in a decade. One cause for these high totals is the rising toll of drug overdoses experienced by workers on the job. Drug overdose deaths on the job have increased by at least 25% in each of the last five years.
These figures come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual National Census Of Fatal Occupational Injuries report. The report shows that certain occupations carry a much higher risk of dying on the job than others.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council, stated that the occupations with the highest fatality rates tend to have one of three things in common: they involve working from dangerous heights where a fall would be fatal; they involve frequent contact with dangerous machinery; or they involve driving for substantial periods. “Motor vehicle injuries are relatively rare in the workplace, but when a motor vehicle crash occurs, it tends to be very serious or fatal.” Kolosh explained.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed workplace fatality rates by occupation to identify the 25 most dangerous jobs. Those working in the jobs on this list are prone to deadly slips and falls, inadvertent contact with dangerous substances or equipment, and even violent altercations. Fatality rates for each of these jobs are more than double the rate across all occupations — and in some cases over 20 times higher.
To determine the 25 most dangerous jobs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed fatal injury rates for 72 occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Injury rates were calculated as the number of fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, where a full-time worker is equivalent to 2,000 hours worked by an employee during the calendar year, and are for 2017. Data on median annual wages and total employment came from the Occupational Employment Statistics program of the BLS and are as of May 2017. Data on nonfatal injuries are for the private sector only, and came from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program of the BLS for 2017.
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