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America's Most Dangerous Jobs

Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder Editor

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While many of us go to our jobs every day without even thinking that we might suffer a paper cut, there are thousands of other workers in peril every time they punch the clock. From inner city violence to acts of nature, professionals put their lives at risk to keep the community safe, keep store shelves stocked with food, keep our utilities running, and build our roads, cars and homes.

In August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report identifying the industries and occupations that had the most fatal work injuries. In 2008, there were 5,071 fatal work injuries and a fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers in the United States -- a drop from 5,657 and 4.0 respectively in 2007. While this decrease is something to be optimistic about, there are other factors to consider.

According to the BLS, economic factors likely played a role in the fatality decrease. Hours worked at the national level fell by one percent in 2008, and some industries that have historically accounted for a significant share of worker fatalities, such as construction, experienced larger declines in employment or hours worked. One might speculate the economy also be factored into the rise of workplace suicides, which were up 28 percent to a series high of 251 cases in 2008.

Are you curious to see if your job is one of the most hazardous? These were the most fatal occupations and industries last year:

Jobs with the highest fatality rates
The following 10 occupations had the highest fatality rates in 2008:

1.  Fishers and related fishing workers
Fatality rate*: 128.9

2.  Logging workers
Fatality rate: 115.7

3.  Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Fatality rate: 72.4

4.  Structural iron and steel workers
Fatality rate: 46.4

5.  Farmers and ranchers
Fatality rate: 39.5

6.  Refuse and recyclable material collectors
Fatality rate: 36.8

7.  Roofers
Fatality rate: 34.4

8.  Electrical power line installers and repairers
Fatality rate: 29.8

9.  Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
Fatality rate: 22.8

10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Fatality rate: 19.3

Jobs with the most fatalities
The following 10 positions saw the most deaths in 2008:

1.  Motor vehicle operators
Number of victims: 908
Most common manner of death: 66 were highway-related.

2.  Construction trades workers
Number of victims: 720
Most common manner of death: 37 were attributed to falls

3.   Material moving workers
Number of victims: 248
Most common manner of death: 14 fall-related fatalities and 12 were struck by objects

4.   Law enforcement workers
Number of victims: 144
Most common manner of death: 38 were highway-related and 33 were homicides

5.   Agricultural workers
Number of victims: 33
Most common manner of death: 19 highway-related fatalities

6.  Grounds maintenance workers
Number of victims: 128
Most common manner of death: 20 deaths each from falls and being struck by an object

7.  Sales supervisors
Number of victims: 124
Most common manner of death: 52 homicides

8.  Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, repairers
Number of victims: 110
Most common manner of death: 30 were struck by objects

9.  Supervisors, construction and extraction workers
Number of victims: 108
Most common manner of death: 24 fall-related deaths

10.  Metal or plastic workers
Number of victims: 102
Most common manner of death: 15 from being struck by an object and 13 from falls

Most dangerous industries
These industries led in the number and rates of fatalities in 2008:

1.  Construction
Number of deaths: 969
Fatality rate: 9.6

2.  Transportation and warehousing
Number of deaths: 762
Fatality rate: 14.2

3.  Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
Number of deaths: 651
Fatality rate: 29.4

4.  Government
Number of deaths: 522
Fatality rate: 2.3

5.  Manufacturing
Number of deaths: 404
Fatality rate: 2.5

6.  Professional and business services
Number of deaths: 389
Fatality rate: 2.7

7.  Retail trade
Number of deaths: 290
Fatality rate: 2

8.  Leisure and hospitality
Number of deaths: 233
Fatality rate: 2.2

9.  Wholesale trade
Number of deaths: 175
Fatality rate: 4.2

10.  Mining
Number of deaths: 175
Fatality rate: 18

*Fatality rate is the number of fatalities per 100,000 workers

Kate Lorenz is the editor for and its job-seeker blog, She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow her on Twitter

Last Updated: 02/09/2009 - 5:03 PM

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