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Who Dies at Work?

Posted On September 26, 2017

Workers in certain age groups, racial/ethnic groups and occupations have a higher risk of fatal workplace injuries. In 2015, there were more than 4,800 workplace fatalities, representing the highest number of on-the-job deaths since 2008.

The Most Dangerous Occupations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certain occupations pose significant risks for serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace. Some of the most dangerous jobs in America include: fishermen; loggers; airline pilots; construction workers; roadside workers; utility workers; electrical power line installers; truck drivers; and taxi drivers. In 2015, the highest number of workplace fatalities resulted from the following:

  • Transportation and roadway crashes
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Falling objects and equipment
  • Workplace violence
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Explosions and fires

Roadway workers and construction workers both face high risks of death in the workplace. In 2015, fatalities for roadside workers accounted for 25 percent of fatal occupational injuries. The leading causes of death were being struck by vehicles, falling objects, and heavy equipment. Workplace deaths within the construction industry accounted for 22 percent of fatal occupational injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls from high places like rooftops, ladders and scaffolding are the leading cause of construction-related fatalities. High-rise workers who use lifts or scaffolding without proper protection are at the highest risk of deadly falls. Construction workers also face the danger of burns, explosions, and electrocutions when working with power tools, heavy machinery, and electrical wiring on construction sites without proper safety equipment.

In 2015, Non-Hispanic, Black or African-American workers incurred the highest number of workplace fatalities. Workers who were 45 years of age and older accounted for 58 percent of workplace fatalities. Fatal injuries were lower among young workers between the ages of 25 and 34, but significantly higher among older workers over age 65. The majority of workplace fatalities occurred among male workers. Female workers only accounted for seven percent of fatal on-the-job injuries seen by a workers comp lawyer.

For many Americans, risking life and limb comes with the job but not always with a high paycheck. Many workers in the most dangerous jobs are making annual incomes that barely tip over the poverty line for a family of four. The typical salary for many high-risk jobs is about $45,000 per year. In contrast, some of the safest occupations like accountants, computer technicians, and paralegals pay high wages, up to $70,000 in many areas of the country.

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