Special Report

25 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

25. Industrial truck and tractor operators
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 6.8 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 44 fatal injuries, 4,970 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Transportation incidents
> Median annual wage: $34,750

Industrial truck and tractor operators generally move materials in places like warehouses, construction sites, or factories using equipment like forklifts or trucks. The job typically requires precise control and coordination as accidents can result in serious injury and sometimes death. There were 44 work-related fatalities among industrial truck and tractor operators in 2018, or 6.8 for every 100,000 people working in the profession. The most common cause of death was a transportation incident, such as a collision.

Other potential hazards, like overexertion, trips and falls, and unintentional contact with objects or equipment also caused thousands of nonfatal injuries in 2018.

24. Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 7.6 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 22 fatal injuries, 1,090 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Transportation incidents
> Median annual wage: $33,530

Being an athlete, coach, umpire, or referee may not be what many think of as a dangerous job. Such jobs, however, can often require a lot of travel, and travelling can be dangerous. There were 22 work-related deaths of athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers in 2018, and 18 of those fatalities were attributable to a transportation incident, like a motor vehicle accident.

Serious injury in this line of work has other, far more common, causes. Overexertion or bodily reactions like sprains, tears, and soreness, for example, accounted for nearly half of the 1,090 injuries among Americans in this line of work in 2018.

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23. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 8.5 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 40 fatal injuries, 6,900 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Falls, slips, trips
> Median annual wage: $28,530

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers typically work in uncomfortable conditions, including cramped spaces and dealing with high heat or low temperatures. Workplace hazards can include, but are not limited to, electrocution, burns, muscle strain, and injuries associated with lifting heavy equipment. Falls, slips, and trips accounted for the largest share of the 40 workplace fatalities in the occupation in 2018, but overexertion and bodily reaction accounted for the largest share of nonfatal injuries.

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22. Electricians
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 8.8 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 80 fatal injuries, 6,350 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Exposure to harmful substances or environments
> Median annual wage: $55,190

Electricians fix and install power systems in a variety of settings, often working with dangerous voltage. In 2018, 80 electricians died and more than 6,300 were injured while on the job. Nearly half of these fatalities resulted from exposure to harmful substances or environments, which includes electrocution. Electricians, who sometimes work well above ground, were also injured and even killed by slips, trips, and falls. They also must travel frequently between locations and face hazards related to transportation such as car accidents.

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21. Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 9.5 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 39 fatal injuries, 3,610 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Contact with objects and equipment
> Median annual wage: $47,350

These mechanics work to upgrade or repair large vehicles with diesel engines. The vehicles, as well as the objects the mechanics need to work on them, present a serious hazard — 17 people in this field were killed in 2018 due to contact with the objects or equipment associated with this occupation. Other causes of death include fires and explosions, as well as slips and falls. Among all American jobs considered, diesel mechanics have the ninth highest rate of nonfatal injuries that cause missed work, with over 1,400 incidents per 100,000 workers.