Special Report

This Is the Most Dangerous Job in America

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Some jobs are considerably more dangerous than others, according to the Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While farming, fishing, and forestry occupations had the highest fatality rate per 100,000 workers in 2020, at 132.1 per 100,000 workers, transportation and material moving occupations had the highest number of fatalities.  Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is the most dangerous job in America.

There were 2,654,700 reportable cases of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the private industry in 2020, according to the latest report. About half of these required workers to stay out of work, and the median number of days these workers needed to be away from work was 12. (These 24 jobs could ruin your hearing.)

The report also provided the most recent figure for fatal work-related injuries. Deaths on the job have steadily risen over the last decade, from 4,693 workers killed in 2011 to 5,333 killed in 2019. The figure dropped to 4,764 fatalities in 2020.

Online job search board Lensa previously released a report on the subject, “America’s Most Dangerous Jobs,” using 2019 data. The report points out: “Worryingly, it is becoming more dangerous to be a worker in the U.S. over the past decade. On average there was a 9.37% increase compared to the number of fatalities in 2009.”

To find the most dangerous jobs in America, 24/7 Wall St. used the 2020 Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities report from the BLS. A total of 156 jobs at the fourth level of detail were ranked by total deaths. 

The most dangerous profession was heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, with 766 deaths in 2020. It was followed by construction laborers and farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers. (And these are the 26 jobs you are most likely to quit.)

The 2020 IIF report also provides data on work injuries by state. States were rated by deaths per 100,000 equivalent full-time workers. Wyoming topped the list with 13 fatalities per 100,000, followed by Alaska at 10.7 and South Dakota at 7.8. The “least dangerous” state was Rhode Island with 1.1 fatalities per 100,000. Delaware (1.7) and Connecticut (1.8) followed.

The most dangerous industries were ranked by total deaths. Trade, transportation, and utilities topped the list at 1,254 fatalities in 2020, followed by construction with 1,008 fatalities.

Click here to see the most dangerous job in America

25. Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners
> Total deaths, 2020: 42

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25. Fishing and hunting workers
> Total deaths, 2020: 42

25. Commercial pilots
> Total deaths, 2020: 42

22. Farmworkers, farm, ranch, and aquacultural animals
> Total deaths, 2020: 44

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21. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers
> Total deaths, 2020: 45

19. Painters, construction and maintenance
> Total deaths, 2020: 53

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19. Light truck drivers
> Total deaths, 2020: 53

17. Cashiers
> Total deaths, 2020: 54

17. Automotive service technicians and mechanics
> Total deaths, 2020: 54

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16. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
> Total deaths, 2020: 56

14. Security guards
> Total deaths, 2020: 61

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14. First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
> Total deaths, 2020: 61

13. Driver/sales workers
> Total deaths, 2020: 68

11. Electricians
> Total deaths, 2020: 70

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11. Maintenance and repair workers, general
> Total deaths, 2020: 70

10. Carpenters
> Total deaths, 2020: 79

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9. Tree trimmers and pruners
> Total deaths, 2020: 82

8. Farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse
> Total deaths, 2020: 85

5. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
> Total deaths, 2020: 88

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5. Roofers
> Total deaths, 2020: 88

5. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
> Total deaths, 2020: 88

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4. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers
> Total deaths, 2020: 116

3. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
> Total deaths, 2020: 207

2. Construction laborers
> Total deaths, 2020: 308

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1. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
> Total deaths, 2020: 766

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