According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 5,333 workplace fatalities recorded in the U.S. in 2019 – the most since 2007. BLS conducts this census each year with the objective that employers, lawmakers, and regulators work together to reduce deaths from work-related injuries.
And while these fatalities span many different industries and occupations, the data show some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others. And often, they’re also the most essential.
The Most Dangerous Industries in America May Surprise You
Most people are aware that industries like construction, oil and gas, and transportation are fraught with danger. Business owners and HSE managers in these industries are wise to maintain rigorous safety programs to protect employees and comply with OSHA standards. And while jobs in these industries are risky endeavors, there are a few industries that top the list of most dangerous jobs in America that may surprise you.
One way to better understand worker risks is by reviewing a key metric tracked by BLS’ annual National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI): the fatal injury rate by occupation. This metric calculates the risk of death for specific types of jobs per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. In 2019, the average fatal work injury rate across all professions was 3.5.
Now, compare that to the 2019 fatal injury rate for the 10 most dangerous occupations:
- Fishing and hunting workers: 145.0
- Logging workers: 68.9
- Aircraft pilots / flight engineers: 61.8
- Roofers: 54.0
- Helpers/construction trades: 40.0
- Refuse and recycling collectors: 35.2
- Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: 26.8
- Structural iron and steel workers: 26.3
- Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural: 23.2
- Grounds maintenance workers: 19.8
If you employ workers in any of the professions listed above, a proactive approach to workplace safety is vital to keeping employees safe and protecting your business from OSHA enforcement.
Texas Leads the Nation in Workplace Fatalities, and More Key Findings
Texas again led the nation in the number of workplace fatalities across all industries with 608 fatal occupational injuries in 2019.
Here are some more key findings from the 2019 CFOI:
- A work-related death occurred every 99 minutes in 2019.
- Workers 55 and older accounted for 38% of all workplace fatalities.
- Trip, slip, and fall accidents accounted for 11% of workplace deaths.
Additional findings from the BLS shed light on the actual number of fatalities per occupation and other trends:
- Nearly 1 out of every 5 worker fatalities involved a driver/sales worker or truck driver.
- Grounds maintenance workers had 229 fatalities in 2019 – the most since the CFOI series started in 2003.
- Worker fatalities in construction and extraction industries increased by 6% in 2019 to 1,066 – the most since 2007.
Comprehensive Counsel for Your OSHA Compliance Needs
Because OSHA enforcement can be costly, time-consuming, and potentially devastating to a company’s future, being aware of the most dangerous professions or most cited violations is only part of a sound compliance program. Ensuring safety in the workplace and minimizing liability exposure requires constant, comprehensive effort – as well as the insight of experienced counsel.
Hendershot Cowart P.C. is comprised of award-winning attorneys with extensive experience representing employers across a range of industries in matters of OSHA compliance and OSHA citation defense.
When working with employers in dangerous industries, we help business owners, operational executives, and supervisors create compliance and training programs customized to their specific industry, occupations within their organization, and job duties of employees. This includes tailored strategies that adhere to OSHA’s voluntary training guidelines, general industry and construction training standards, and multi-employer worksite policy.
We also assist with the development and management of compliance audits and Emergency Actions Plans to help employers and supervisors prepare for incidents or OSHA inspections on a proactive basis. Our attorneys believe in the sentiment that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and encourage clients to consider and train for worst case scenarios to help mitigate risk and ultimately save lives.