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What are the nation's most dangerous occupations?

Any job involves some risk of injury, even if it's just sitting at a desk. In fact, a large number of workers' compensation claims involve repetitive stress injuries suffered by office workers and other sedentary employees due to typing or other repetitive motions. However, when it comes to catastrophic injuries and deaths, some occupations are much riskier than others.

The fishing industry has long been one of the most deadly workplaces of all in the United States. Although discussion of fishing accidents in the media tends to center on the coastal states, Ohio’s proximity to Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes means that the issue of fishing safety is also relevant here.

Fishermen and related workers suffer an on-the-job fatality rate about thirty-six times higher than that of the average American worker. These deaths are often caused by falls overboard, equipment accidents and vessel disasters such as fires or rogue waves. 

Another dangerous field, which employs more Ohio workers than the fishing industry, is construction. Overall, fatal construction accidents accounted for 775 workplace fatalities in 2012, or about 18 percent of all on-the-job deaths across all industries.

Most construction worker deaths are caused by slips, trips and falls, which also account for a large number of non-fatal work injuries in the industry. Other common causes of death in the construction industry include transportation-related accidents and equipment injuries.

Although easily overlooked in conversations about workers’ compensation, farmers and ranchers also rank among the most likely to be killed on the job. In 2012, there were slightly more than 21 work-related deaths per 100,000 workers in the farming industry, or about 7 times more than average. As in other industries, falls, equipment injuries and roadway accidents account for a large share of farming deaths.

With transportation-related accidents accounting for so many work-related injuries and deaths across a range of occupations, it may come as no surprise that truck drivers and other workers who drive for a living make up a large share of on-the-job deaths and injuries as well. In 2012, truckers and other professional drivers suffered about 65,000 non-fatal injuries and had an occupational fatality rate of about 22 per 100,000 workers.

Source: Wall St. Cheat Sheet, "Price of Risk: How Well Do the 5 Most Dangerous Jobs Pay?" Erika Rawes, June 28, 2014

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