Monty Python taught us all that lumberjacks are OK. Maybe that's true in the U.K., but American loggers face one of the most dangerous work environments in America.
According to new data from the Labor Department, people who worked in the fishing industry had the highest rate of on-the-job deaths in 2011, at 121.2 per 100,000. Logging workers were just behind, at 102.4 deaths per 100,000. Truck drivers come in at No. 8, with a much lower death rate of 24.0 per 100,000. However, largely because of the large number of these workers, the number of fatal injuries was by far higher than in the other groups on the list, at 759. The only group in the top 10 that comes close is farmers and ranchers, at 260 deaths last year.
Below are the 10 most dangerous jobs in America last year, as measured by number of deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
|Occupation||Fatal Work Injuries per 100,000 FTE Workers||Number of Fatal Work Injuries|
|1. Fishers and Related Fishing Workers||121.2||40|
|2. Logging Workers||102.4||64|
|3. Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers||57.0||72|
|4. Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors||41.2||34|
|6. Structural Iron and Steel Workers||26.9||16|
|7. Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers||25.3||260|
|8. Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers||24.0||759|
|9. Electrical Power Line Installers||20.3||27|
|10. Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs||19.7||63|
Note: Data reflect occupations with the highest fatality rates as published by the BLS. Data may not reflect jobs that do not meet the BLS's publishing standards—for example, occupations with very few workers and therefore unreliable numbers. All data are preliminary.
The list is in large part unchanged from the 2010 figures, but a few jobs have fallen out of the top 10 since then, including police officers and workers who repair, install, and maintain industrial machinery.
It's hard out there for a roofer or a cattle rancher, but overall, American workers had a marginally safer year than they did in 2010. Last year, there were 4,609 fatal work injuries, down slightly from 4,690 in 2010. The rate of injuries was also slightly lower, down from 3.6 to 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers—far lower than the above-listed occupations.
Over the longer term, work has generally become more safe for Americans; the number of work injuries in 2011 was down by more than 1,200 from 2006, and the rate also had dropped, from 4.2 in 2006.
A large portion of 2011's workplace deaths, 41 percent, were transportation-related, with the next-largest portion, 17 percent, coming from violence and injuries from animals and other people. Fifteen percent of deaths came from contact with objects or equipment—being struck by a falling tool or piece of machinery, for example.
A lot of these jobs with the highest death rates tend to be dominated by men, and that trend shows in the aggregate statistics. Fully 92 percent of all on-the-job deaths are men—a remarkably high ratio, considering that men only accounted for 57 percent of all hours worked in 2011.
Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter at @titonka or via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.