Special Report

25 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

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20. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 10.6 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 39 fatal injuries, 2,280 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Transportation incidents
> Median annual wage: $47,810

Construction zones can be particularly hazardous work environments, and people operating heavy equipment, such as bulldozers, front end loaders, scrapers, and derricks, are at relatively high risk of serious injury while on the job. Hazardous job site conditions can include falling objects, other workers operating equipment, and utility lines. Partially as a result, following safety procedures is a central component of this job. There were 39 fatal injuries and 2,280 nonfatal but serious injuries among Americans working in this occupation in 2018.

Pay for this occupation is slightly higher than average. The typical full-time worker in the field earns $47,810 a year, about $9,000 more than the median wage across all occupations.

19. Mining machine operators
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 11.0 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 9 fatal injuries, 370 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Contact with objects and equipment
> Median annual wage: $52,700

Mining has long been one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, as it entails working far underground in potentially unstable tunnels with coal dust or other highly combustible materials. Some of the worst workplace disasters in history have been mine collapses or explosions. Today, improved safety regulations and technology have drastically reduced the likelihood of death on the job, but mining is still highly dangerous. Mining machine operators suffer a fatality rate over three times the national rate.

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18. Maintenance and repair workers, general
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 12.5 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 64 fatal injuries, 21,130 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Contact with objects and equipment
> Median annual wage: $38,300

Maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machinery and buildings. This can involve a wide range of tasks, including, but not limited to, repairing or replacing circuit breakers, general cleaning and upkeep of buildings and properties, troubleshooting and diagnosing problems, and assembling equipment and machinery. Work can be hazardous as maintenance and repair workers often work in uncomfortably hot or cold environments, in cramped spaces, or on top of ladders.

The largest share of the 64 fatal and 21,130 nonfatal injuries among repair and maintenance workers in 2018 occured due to contact with equipment and dangerous objects.

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17. Construction laborers
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 13.0 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 259 fatal injuries, 20,430 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Falls, slips, trips
> Median annual wage: $35,800

Construction sites are among the most hazardous work environments, and construction laborers are far more prone to serious injury than most American workers. In a given day, a construction laborer may do a wide range of tasks, including moving materials, setting up scaffolding, digging trenches, and removing debris and other potential hazards from construction sites.

Because their work is often outdoors in all weather conditions — and sometimes at great heights — falls, slips, and trips accounted for the largest share of the 259 fatal injuries among construction laborers in 2018.

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16. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
> 2018 fatal injury rate: 13.7 per 100,000 workers
> Total injuries in 2018: 108 fatal injuries, 380 nonfatal injuries
> Most common cause of fatal accident: Violence and other injuries by persons or animals
> Median annual wage: $61,380

Police and sheriff’s patrol officers are responsible for maintaining law and order and ensuring public safety, which often means interacting with dangerous and violent individuals. Over 100 police and sheriff’s patrol officers were killed in the line of duty in 2018. The majority of those fatalities were attributable to injuries inflicted by other people or animals.

Police work can also involve driving at high speeds, and many police deaths in 2018 were also due to transportation incidents, such as car accidents.