The Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.

  • Dangerous Work

    While many Americans have been worried about the risk of getting laid off in recent years due to the bad economy, we may have overlooked the fact that those who have jobs are at least safer from physical harm than in years past. There were 3.6 cases of non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the workplace for every 100 full-time private sector workers in 2009, down from 3.9 cases the year before, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Likewise, public sector workers had injuries decline from 6.3 per 100 workers in 2008 to 5.8 in 2009. But even as the number of injuries and illnesses have gone down for U.S. workers overall, several professions proved particularly dangerous and experienced significantly higher injury rates. We combed through the BLS data to find the 10 professions that with the greatest number of injuries per 10,000 workers and used this data to breakdown the leading causes of these injuries as well. The data is based on the total number of incidents logged and reported to the BLS, and only factors in injuries and illnesses that were serious enough to keep the person away from work for at least two days, but not so serious that the worker ended up dying. The injury reports provide a unique window into the challenges faced by each of these professions. Some of jobs that ultimately proved to be the most dangerous may come as a big shock. Photo Credit: phil_g
    10th Most Dangerous: Construction Workers
  • 10th Most Dangerous: Construction Workers

    Like many of the jobs on this list, construction work is labor intensive and rife with health risks. The leading source of injury for these workers comes from being struck by objects or getting crushed by materials, accounting for 163 injuries per 10,000 workers in 2009, the most of any profession. Over-exertion and falls also proved to be major risks for construction laborers, causing dozens of injuries each. Total injuries: 26,690 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 382 Photo Credit: NIOSH
    9th Most Dangerous: Laborers and Movers
  • 9th Most Dangerous: Laborers and Movers

    As with construction workers, the main threat for laborers and movers comes from being struck by objects and getting overworked to the point of exhaustion. There were 131 injuries per 10,000 workers caused by being struck and crushed by objects, and there were 130 cases of workers taking extended time off due to overexertion. To add insult to injury, for all the risk of their job, this position is one of the fastest dying professions in the country, meaning many of these workers may one day have to nurse their wounds at the nearest job retraining center. Total Injuries: 64,910 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 406 Photo Credit: Kalabird
    8th Most Dangerous: Truck Drivers
  • 8th Most Dangerous: Truck Drivers

    Not surprisingly, truck drivers are more prone to traffic accidents than most professions, and in 2009, there were 51 injury reports per 10,000 workers due to transportation accidents. The long drives and heavy lifting are clearly taking their toll as well, as there were 114 cases per 10,000 workers of truck drivers getting sick with over-exertion. Total Injuries: 32,210 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 410 Photo Credit: Getty Images
    7th Most Dangerous: Garbage Collectors
  • 7th Most Dangerous: Garbage Collectors

    Garbage collectors, or as the Bureau of Labor refers to them, “refuse and recyclable material collectors,” were more likely than any other professionals to get injured by getting caught or crushed by something (we’ll assume that “something” is the truck). There were 57 cases of injuries stemming from this for every 10,000 workers. Garbage collectors also had a high rate of injuries from exposure to harmful substances, with 12 cases per 10,000 workers. Total Injuries: 4,690 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 436 Photo Credit: myszca
    6th Most Dangerous: Fire Fighters
  • 6th Most Dangerous: Fire Fighters

    Firefighters aren’t considered brave for nothing. They had just the second highest number of injuries from exposure to harmful substances (36 per 10,000), the fourth highest number of injuries from falls to a lower level (34 per 10,000), and the fourth highest number of cases of over-exertion (127 per 10,000). Total Injuries: 14,210 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 441 Photo Credit: jeshua.nace
    5th Most Dangerous: Correctional Officers
  • 5th Most Dangerous: Correctional Officers

    For correctional officers and jailers, the big threat is getting assaulted, presumably by the men and women they are charged with guarding. There were 113 cases of correctional officers getting injured in this way per 10,000 workers, more than all but one profession. Total Injuries: 18,440 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 445.6 Photo Credit: aflcio
    4th Most Dangerous: Nursing Aides
  • 4th Most Dangerous: Nursing Aides

    Working in a hospital may not sound as dangerous as some of the other positions on this list, but nursing aides are subject to more than their fair share of injuries. There were 76 injuries reported per 10,000 workers from falling down, the third most of any profession, and a whopping 218 cases of over-exertion per 10,000 workers, more than any other profession except the next one on our list. Total Injuries: 50,620 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 455 Photo Credit: Werner Vermaak
    3rd Most Dangerous: EMTs and Paramedics
  • 3rd Most Dangerous: EMTs and Paramedics

    Emergency medical technicians and paramedics, like nursing aides, often put in incredibly long hours for their jobs, which may explain why there were 222 cases of over-exertion per 10,000 workers in 2009, the most recorded of any profession. These professionals also had one of the highest rates of injuries from contact with foreign objects, with 101 cases reported per 10,000 workers. Surprisingly though, they had nowhere near the highest number of injuries from transportation accidents, despite the fact that ambulances often must speed through traffic. Total Injuries: 9,800 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 510 Photo Credit: Adrian Miles
    2nd Most Dangerous: Police Officers
  • 2nd Most Dangerous: Police Officers

    Police and patrol officers face many risks on the job, but the two most common sources of injury in 2009 were traffic accidents and assaults. Policemen reported 137 injuries per 10,000 workers from assaults and violent acts, the most of any profession, and 105 injuries per 10,000 from transportation accidents, more than any other profession except the number one most dangerous job on our list. Total Injuries: 35,590 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 603 Photo Credit: thieverr
    The Most Dangerous: Bus Drivers
  • The Most Dangerous: Bus Drivers

    Before this year, when one thought about risky professions, they were probably more likely to imagine almost any other job on this list before this one, but bus drivers had the most injuries of any profession in 2009, by far. The 735 injuries reported per 10,000 workers puts them well ahead of police officers and is nearly twice that of construction workers, and indeed, bus drivers rank at or near the top in many injury categories. They fall more than anyone else (85 injuries per 10,000 workers), are exposed to more harmful substances than anyone else (49 injuries per 10,000 workers) and suffer nearly twice the number of injuries from traffic accidents than police officers (183 injuries per 10,000 workers.) In fact, they even log the most injuries from attacks by animals (14 per 10,000 workers.) Maybe that’s why they don’t let dogs on the bus. For better or worse, Americans may gradually be changing their perception of how dangerous this profession is, not just because of the data in this report, but also because of several recent headline grabbing stories of horrific bus accidents, particularly in the New York area. Regardless, next time you feel like getting mad at your bus driver for missing your stop or not having change, take a minute to remember the stress and dangers he or she endures on the job. Total Injuries: 9,440 Injuries per 10,000 Workers: 735 Photo Credit: unfoldedorigami
    Join us on Facebook
  • Join us on Facebook

    Join the MainStreet team and other readers on our lively Facebook page! Discuss our newest stories and get links to breaking content, automatically. Click here to add us. Photo Credit: lawtonchiles
Show Comments