8 of America’s Most Dangerous Jobs

It goes without saying that working as a Hollywood stuntman is a considerably more dangerous job on average than working as an accountant. But no matter what you do, many everyday jobs pose considerable health and safety risks, which can result in serious disability and even death.

Some of the most dangerous jobs may surprise you, while others you may have expected. Here is a list of 8 of the most dangerous jobs, according to 2020 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fishing and hunting workers have a high fatality rate, followed by loggers and roofers.


Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 132.1

Many fishermen and hunters work in incredibly harsh conditions. Fisherman in particular work on the water, where Mother Nature reigns supreme. For every 100,000 fishing and hunting workers, more than 130 will be killed on the job.

71.4% of workplace fatalities among fishing and hunting workers were caused by transportation incidents. For corporate fishermen, manufacturing equipment and accidents are also high on the list of  workers’ compensation injury claims.


Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 91.7

The rate of fatalities per 100,000 logging workers jumped sharply in 2020. In 2019, there were fewer than 70 deaths per 100,000 workers, but in 2020 the rate jumped to over 90 deaths. It’s easy to see why cutting down trees that are hundreds of feet tall, transporting thousands of pounds of wood, and using high-powered saws and other machinery would lead to injuries and fatalities. Workers are also vulnerable to risks from working in high altitudes and inclement weather. Although most loggers are now protected in a cab, the industry is still a dangerous one.

A logger in an orange high-vis jacket using a chainsaw on a log in a forest.Roofer

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 47.0

The average fatality rate per 100,000 roofers was 51 from 2019-2020. Balancing on top of tall buildings in the blazing sun all day makes you vulnerable to injuries and fatalities from incidents like falls and heat stroke. Add in a strong wind, thunderstorms, and equipment like nail guns and saws, and you increase your opportunities for disaster exponentially. Falls pose the greatest danger to roofers, but they also have an increased likelihood of injuries from fire, electric shock, or heavy machinery, making this one of the most dangerous careers out there.

If you have been hurt on the job, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you file your claim.

Helpers, Construction Trades

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 43.3

There were 976 deaths among employees working in construction and extraction jobs. 771 of those fatalities were construction trade workers. Overall, the construction industry, including building construction, civil engineering, and specialty trade contractors, had just over a thousand deaths (roughly level with the number from 2019). The fatal work injury rate per 100,000 helpers and construction trade workers jumped by 3.3 from 2019 to 2020.

Airline Pilot

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 34.3

Being an aircraft pilot or flight engineer is dangerous, but 2020 was safer than 2019 in the industry. Per 100,000 workers, the fatality rate dropped from 2019’s 61.8 to 34.3 in 2020. Flying in a plane may be safer than driving in a car for the average person who spends more time in a car and less in a plane – but not for pilots, who boost their odds of being involved in an accident by increasing their time in the air. Human error, malfunctioning machinery, and inclement weather were the primary reasons for injury and death.

Alaska in particular is responsible for many of the fatalities among pilots. Inexperienced pilots or those flying older planes sometimes cannot combat Alaska’s challenging weather conditions and terrain.

Sanitation Worker

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 33.1

Although this listing might surprise some, refuse and recyclable material collectors often interact with dangerous chemicals and heavy machines designed to compress trash or other materials. In 2020, about 33 people were killed per 100,000 workers in the occupation. Sometimes, hazardous waste and sharp materials can also lead to serious injuries short of death.

But it turns out the biggest threat to these workers is other drivers on the road. Remember, sanitation workers have to hop off and on their truck frequently. Many have suffered injuries or even death when other drivers tried to pass them hurriedly on the road, either hitting them or the truck they were in.

Iron and Steel Worker/Miner

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 32.5

Collapses are one of the most common dangers structural iron and steel workers face, as well as falls and electrocutions from contact with power lines. Similarly, miners and extraction workers are often either crushed under falling debris, or they are exposed to noxious gases and other fumes. From 2016-2020, 255 workers were killed.


Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 25.8

In both 2019 and 2020, the fatality rate per 100,000 truck and sales drivers was about 26. One of the challenges for this industry is that the trucks must be in tip-top shape and drivers must receive adequate sleep and rest. In the hustle and bustle of shipping, sometimes corners are cut, putting drivers in a dangerous position. Spending a lot of time on the road greatly increases your chances of being in an accident and being injured or killed.

Truck drivers are especially vulnerable because they are driving large trucks that are heavy and are hard to maneuver on the road. They have limited sight distance and are unable to move or stop as quickly. Drivers who are given unsafe vehicles or who are pushed to drive for long hours without rest are at additional risk.

Long Hours on the Road: Taxi/Rideshare Drivers

With the amount of time taxi/rideshare drivers spend on the road, their risk of a car accident is also significantly increased. Plus, these drivers can find themselves at the mercy of their passengers.

Injured at Work? You May Be Entitled to Workers’ Compensation

Whether or not you see your job on this list, you have the chance of being injured at work. There are many common types of work injuries, regardless of your profession. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you should file a workers’ compensation claim.

Learn More: Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits

There are many dangerous occupations and many ways to get injured doing them. If you’ve been hurt, you should have an attorney evaluate your case for free. To speak with a real person any time, call 1-866-900-7078.

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About the Author

Ryan Bliss is a workers’ compensation attorney in North Carolina and co-leader of the Workers’ Compensation Department at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Ryan is one of fewer than 200 North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law.a He was named a “Rising Star”b by Super Lawyers Magazine in 2018 and wrote an article called “Workers’ Compensation for the Undocumented Worker” for Trial Briefs Magazine in January 2018.

aNumbers provided by NC State Bar as of 2/21.

bFor more information regarding standards of inclusion, please visit www.superlawyers.com.