Most people who work in dangerous occupations are aware of the risks they take every day just to make a living. Even when all safety precautions are in place, workers can be injured and killed on the job when mistakes are made or the unexpected happens.
We take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupation Injuries for 2015, which was just released.
Which Jobs Top the List?
At 4,836, the number of fatal workplace injuries in 2015 was the highest since 2008. The occupation with the highest number of total fatalities was truck driving with 745, while the industry with the highest number was construction with 937.
However, the BLS determines the most dangerous occupations based on the number of workers killed per 100,000 employed in the industry. On average across all industries, 3.5 workers per 100,000 died on the job in 2015. The fatality rates of the top ten most dangerous jobs far exceed this national average.
Each number of fatalities is per 100,000 workers:
- Logging (132.7)
- Fishing (54.8)
- Flying aircrafts and flight engineering (40.4)
- Roofing (39.7)
- Refuse and recyclable materials collection (38.8)
- Structural iron and steel work (29.8)
- Truck driving (24.3)
- Farming and other agricultural work (22)
- Electrical power line installation and repair (20.5)
- Landscaping and groundskeeping (18.1)
While these numbers don’t account for the workers who are seriously injured—or even permanently disabled—but not killed on the job, it can be assumed these occupations also account for a large number of injuries and illnesses.
How Are Workers Killed on the Job?
The Census also breaks down the kinds of incidents that lead to fatal workplace injuries, revealing that many of the events aren't unique to a particular occupation but common across industries.
In 2015, the leading causes of workplace death were as follows:
- Transportation (43 percent). Roadway incidents, pedestrian accidents, and farm tractor accidents accounted for most of the 2,054 transportation deaths in 2015. Almost half of all transportation deaths involved a semi-truck or tanker.
- Falls, slips, and trips (17 percent). Falls to lower levels accounted for the large majority of workplace falling deaths, very often on ships and construction sites.
- Contact with objects and equipment (15 percent). Workers were most frequently struck by plants, trees, and vegetation; highway vehicles; and construction, logging, and mining machinery.
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animals (15 percent). Sixty-seven percent of workplace violence deaths were homicides, while 33 percent were suicides.
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments (9 percent). Exposure to electricity and temperature extremes accounted for many of these deaths, while accidental overdoses and confinement to small spaces also killed workers in 2015.
- Fires and explosions (3 percent). 121 workers across all industries were killed in fires or explosions in 2015.
Who Is Dying on the Job?
One of the most surprising findings of the Census over the last several years is the increase in deaths among workers over the age of 65. No matter what type of job they work in, a senior’s risk of workplace death is equal to that of an electrician, the 20th most dangerous job overall.
One explanation is that older workers are more likely to die from an injury that would not kill a younger worker. There are also more older people in the workforce due to financial pressures that didn’t exist years ago. As this worker demographic increases, it's likely we will see even more workplace fatalities.
How Can Workers’ Compensation Help?
If you work in one of these dangerous occupations and suffer an injury, you're entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits for your medical care and time away from work. If a loved one is killed, you may be able to collect workers’ comp survivor benefits. If you were a dependent of the deceased worker, you're entitled to compensation for burial expenses as well as a weekly benefit of 66 2/3 percent of your loved one’s average weekly wage, up to a set maximum amount.
In order to collect these benefits, you may need the help of an experienced workers’ comp attorney. Connect with us through the link on this page to learn more.