Construction Industry on Most Dangerous Jobs List


A new report listing the 25 most dangerous jobs was recently released by business insurance analysis firm AdivsorSmith. Of that list, 12 of the 25 jobs are in the construction industry.

The study examined 263 professions with employment of at least 50,000 workers nationwide and used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which conducts a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries that calculate workplace fatalities by occupation every year.

“To calculate the fatal injury rate, we took the number of fatalities divided by the number of jobs in a given occupation for a given year,” the report reads.

“We normalized the fatality rate per 100,000 workers in order to compare professions with differing levels of employment. To calculate the fatal injury rate, we took the average of the rate for 2014-2018 to reduce the impact of single-year anomalies in the fatal injury data.”

The Data

The firm notes that on-the-job deaths have been rising in recent years, from 4,821 in 2014 to 5,250 deaths in 2018, an increase of 9% over the five-year period. However, the rate of deaths adjusted for employment has only risen approximately 2.2% over the same period, as a previously improving economy led to additional employment. In 2018, the average fatality rate among all jobs was 3.4 per 100,000 workers.

The study also found that some jobs in the list are significantly more dangerous than others—the job in the top spot, logging, is 33 times more dangerous than the average job, for example.

Additionally, the study found that many of the workers in the most dangerous jobs earn salaries that are below the May 2019 annual mean wage of $53,490, and companies that hire workers with dangerous jobs typically have workers’ compensation insurance premiums that are higher than average.

The top 25 list is ranked by the fatal injury rate per 100,000 workers (not just the total number of deaths in a year). The list includes:

  1. Logging worker, 111s;
  2. aircraft pilots and flight engineers, 53;
  3. derrick and oil field workers, 46;
  4. roofers, 41;
  5. garbage collectors, 34;
  6. ironworker, 29s;
  7. delivery drivers, 27;
  8. farmers, 26;
  9. firefighting supervisors, 20;
  10. power linemen, 20;
  11. agricultural workers, 20;
  12. crossing guards, 19;
  13. crane operators, 19;
  14. construction helpers, 18;
  15. landscaping supervisors, 18;
  16. highway maintenance worker, 18s;
  17. cement masons, 17;
  18. small engine mechanics, 15;
  19. supervisors of mechanics, 15;
  20. heavy vehicle mechanics, 14;
  21. grounds maintenance workers, 14;
  22. police officers, 14;
  23. maintenance workers, 14;
  24. construction workers, 13; and
  25. mining machine operators, 11.

Most common fatal accidents included transportation incidents; falls, slips and trips; violence and other injuries by persons or animals; contact with objects and equipment; and exposure to harmful substances or environments.

Past Statistics

In January, the Bureau released its annual report for 2018, and noted that the fatal work injury rate remained unchanged from 2017 at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

Some of the key findings from that data included:

  • Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event at 2,080, about 40% of all work-related fatalities;
  • Incidents involving contact with objects and equipment increased 13% (from 695 to 786);
  • Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased 12% from 272 to 305; and
  • Fatal falls, slips and trips decreased 11% to 791, after reaching a series high of 887 in 2017. This decline was due to a 14% drop in falls to a lower level (713 to 615), the lowest total since 2013.

 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a statement commenting on the findings shortly after the report was released, and first focused on the suicide rate.

“Suicide at work, which increased by 11% in 2018, is also a tragic public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on families, workplaces, and communities,” the administration said. “OSHA created a new webpage with free and confidential resources to help identify the warning signs of suicide and to help users know who and how to call for help.

OSHA credited the decline in fatal falls to enforcement efforts, saying that they helped “abated more than 7,000 fall-related hazards in the construction industry.

“OSHA will continue to use BLS data for enforcement targeting within its jurisdiction to help prevent tragedies,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt.

“Inspections for OSHA were up, and we will work with state plans so employers and workers can find compliance assistance tools in many forms or call the agency to report unsafe working conditions. Any fatality is one too many.”

Some more numbers from that report included:

  • Fatalities in the construction industry in general went up from 971 in 2017 to 1,008 in 2018;
  • Within the construction of building the number went up from 196 to 200; and
  • The specialty trade contractors sector saw a slight decline from 610 to 609.
  • The most dangerous occupation was logging; the top 10 are rounded out by:
  • fishers and related fishing workers;
  • aircraft pilots and flight engineers;
  • roofers;
  • refuse and recyclable material collectors;
  • driver/sales workers and truck drivers;
  • farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers;
  • structural iron and steel workers;
  • first-line supervisors and construction trades and extraction workers; and
  • first-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service and groundskeeping workers.

Tagged categories: Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Industry surveys; NA; North America; Safety

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