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The 20 Most Dangerous Jobs in the World


Some jobs require a worker to sit behind a desk and file some paperwork. Typically, they will complain about their job. However, there are people who put their lives on the line to do the most dangerous jobs. They take on the tasks with no complaints. Dangerous jobs subject workers to risks like injury or death. Knowing how dangerous they are, why would workers still do them? Some people do them out of passion, others because they earn a lot, while others do them because they are family businesses. Now that we know why some workers do those jobs, we can identify the jobs. Without further ado, here are the 20 most dangerous jobs today.

20. Highway Maintenance Worker

  • Fatal injuries: 4 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $45,880

Most highway maintenance workers die from getting hit by a speeding vehicle. They are vulnerable to accidents since they work from the road. Some drivers drive at high speeds that they cannot control. Since they are unable to brake on time, they end up hitting the worker. Another reason drivers hit highway maintenance workers is due to distractions. Drivers may get distracted by phone calls, conversations, or dramatic events by the roadside.

19. Automotive Mechanic

  • Fatal injuries: 6 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $44,050

The major cause of death in this job is contact with vehicles. A car may fall on the mechanic during transportation or fall off the stand while being jacked. The other reason mechanics die is due to contracting asbestos, an inflammatory lung condition. Asbestos is caused due to inhaling asbestos found in brakes, clutches, hood liners, and heat shields. According to Elglaw, its symptoms include chronic coughs, shortness of breath and permanent lung damage.

18. Crane Operator

  • Fatal injuries: 6 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $62,240

When working with overhead cranes, the operator sometimes drops loads. Since the loads are usually heavy, they cause instant death to the worker when dropped on them. Falling loads from the crane may be due to incompetence of the operator, mechanical failure, or slipping. Crane operators also die from getting electrocuted. This is because cranes contain a metal part that can come into contact with an electric source. Also, the crane’s hoist line sometimes touches the power lines.

17. Construction Laborer

  • Fatal injuries: 9 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $37,890

Construction laborers usually lose their lives by falling. Most falls occur from construction ladders. Sometimes the worker may not have been trained to use them properly. Some workers may use a structurally damaged ladder; for instance, it has no rungs, or its side rails are bent. Other workers die due to exposure to various harmful substances. One substance they get exposed to is lead from roofs or electrical conduits. Repeated lead exposure causes organ and system damage. The other substance some workers encounter is chromium from welding with stainless steel. Chromium causes kidney damage, eye irritation, and teeth damage.

16. Security Guard

  • Fatal injuries: 9 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $31,050

Typically, security guards are unarmed, which explains why they die at the hands of armed criminals. There are some reasons why they are not armed. With the rise of gun violence in the United States, some employers do not want to take chances arming them. The problem, however, is that the unarmed guard isn’t trained on how to defeat armed assailants. Besides not having a gun, they do not usually enjoy personal protection. For most of their shifts, they have to patrol their area on foot. With no gun or protection, the worker has to depend on their physical strength.

15. Athlete

  • Fatal injuries: 12 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $31,440

The leading cause of death among athletes is sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest in athletes may be caused by a structural or electrical abnormality of the heart. Most of these abnormalities are hereditary, so the athlete may be unaware of their state. If an athlete has an unusual heart condition and engages in exercise, they will acquire sudden cardiac arrest.

14. Police Officer

  • Fatal injuries: 15 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $59,680

The leading cause of death among police officers is intentional injury from another person. Police officers have to pursue criminals, which means they may encounter armed criminals. Since the criminals will do what they can to avoid arrest, they will shoot at the police officer. Another reason why some police officers die is due to depression. High levels of unmanaged stress cause depression. Police work is stressful because you must work round the clock to pursue criminals. If the police officer fails to find a criminal, stress ensues.

13. Electrician

  • Fatal injuries: 15 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $56,900

The major cause of death for electricians is electrocution. One reason why this is bound to happen is when the worker fails to follow certain procedures. For instance, some do not lock off a circuit correctly. By doing so, someone else may re-energize it while the electrician works on the system. The re-energization often leads to shocks or explosions.

12. Farmer

  • Fatal injuries: 23 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $66,360

Many accidents occur on the farm, but farmers mainly lose their lives due to their tractors overturning. According to Farm Injury Resource, rollovers account for 44% of farm accidents. Compared to passenger cars and trucks, tractors have the highest center of gravity which explains the overturning. Tractor rollovers cause death by crushing your chest or strangulation. Besides overturning tractors, farmers also die from grain entrapment. Grain entrapment occurs when a person is submerged in grain and cannot get out until they are rescued. This accident usually happens in silos or grain bins. The farmer begins to suffocate when the grain reaches the chest and dies if not rescued immediately.

11. Delivery Driver

  • Fatal injuries: 25 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $36,670

Delivery drivers spend most of their time on the road, which makes them susceptible to road accidents. A major reason why they die in road accidents is speeding. Delivery drivers have to deliver goods within a certain time. To beat the time, they drive too fast. The driver will likely lose control and collide with another object by driving fast.

10. Landscaper

  • Fatal injuries: 25 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $28,952

The major cause of death of landscapers is transportation-related injuries. A common way injury occurs is when a tractor rolls towards the worker. The other reason they die is due to contact with objects or equipment. An injury can occur when the worker is hit by objects or while using machinery.

9. Ironworker

  • Fatal injuries: 25 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $51,800

Ironworkers typically work on buildings and bridges. Since much of the work is done from extreme heights, falls are the leading cause of death among ironworkers. Since iron beams tend to be narrow, iron workers slip off from them. Apart from falling off, iron workers also die from amputations. Ironworkers use metal shears to cut iron. Due to how sharp the tool is, some cut off their fingers and bleed excessively.

8. Garbage Collector

  • Fatal injuries: 33 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $39,100

Garbage collectors usually die from vehicular accidents. A common way they die is from collisions. Garbage trucks make constant stops because the garbage collector has to pick up garbage from each house. When the garbage collector abruptly stops their truck, another truck hits it from behind. Another cause of death occurs when the garbage collector is knocked down by a car. It usually occurs when the garbage collector walks in and out of traffic to pick up garbage. Once on the road on foot, they get hit by speeding cars. Additionally, the garbage collector may accidentally be knocked by their colleague as they reverse the truck. Such an accident is common since garbage trucks contain wide blind spots.

7. Miner

  • Fatal injuries: 46 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $53,905

Miners usually die after getting ‘buried alive’ due to mine cave-ins. Cave-ins occur when supporting pillars within the mine fail. They usually occur due to incorrect mining techniques like blasting. However, they can also be caused by earthquakes. Blasting not only causes mine cave-ins but releases gasses like carbon monoxide and methane. With no space to escape, these gasses also contribute to the demise of miners.

6. Firefighter

  • Fatal injuries: 48 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $50,850

The leading cause of death among firefighters is heart attacks. Heart attacks result from exposure to smoke in the air, occupational stress, and disrupted sleep schedules. Due to the constant strain on the heart, the worker experiences blood clotting. This job is especially risky for those who have underlying heart issues. Since a firefighter is exposed to fire from time to time, they must maintain their heart health. They can do this by practicing mindfulness, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking.

5. Roofer

  • Fatal injuries: 49 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $37,760

Most roofers die because of falling off the roof edge. One of the reasons for the falls is using inappropriate roof-edge fall protection tools. For instance, some roofers use safety lines and monitors instead of guardrails. Some falls occur even before roofers reach the roof. This may occur if the roofer uses a ladder that is slippery due to snow. The other cause of death among roofers is electricity exposure. Some houses are near overhead power lines. This fatality usually occurs as the roofer climbs the roof. To seek support, the roofer ends up unintentionally touching the power lines for some support.

4. Pilot

  • Fatal injuries: 56 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $105,720

The deaths of pilots have been attributed to plane crashes. Most of these plane crashes are a result of the pilot’s exhaustion. A pilot’s schedule is inconsistent since they may be required to fly for long hours without sleep. Due to exhaustion, the pilot sleeps and crashes in transit.

3. Fisherman

  • Fatal injuries: 86 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $27,110

Several fishers lose their lives due to vessel disasters. Winds usually cause these disasters. The winds may cause the fisher’s vessel to capsize or collide with another vessel. Some fishers have died due to failure to maintain their vessels. Lack of maintenance can lead to vessels catching fire or stalling at sea. Another cause of death among fishers is slipping and falling on the deck. The fisher may hit their head on the surface or fall into the water and drown. Since the fishers spend the most time in water, they make the deck wet which becomes slippery. To reduce the chances of slipping, the fisherman must keep the deck dry by cleaning it.

2. Soldier

  • Fatal injuries: 94 per 100,000
  • Median annual wage: $54,329

It may seem ironic to some, but the major cause of death among soldiers is suicide. Suicide is usually due to the stressful nature of military work, e.g., seeing your partners die. Additionally, the soldier may have other stressors in their life besides at work, say a divorce. A soldier’s job is stressful since they are continually exposed to the stressors at work without catching a break. To put an end to the cycle, the soldier considers suicide as the only way.

1. Logger

  • Fatal injuries: 136 per 100,000 workers
  • Median annual wage: $37,590

The leading cause of death in this profession is falling objects, like a log or branch. According to Penn State, the death occurs when the objects fall on the worker’s head. Not only is the worker at risk, but also passersby. One of the reasons this accident occurs may be due to weather patterns. Typically, a logger will identify an area where the tree should fall. Unfortunately, the wind blows the tree in their direction.


The point of this article isn’t to scare you from these jobs. It is instead to inform you of the risks you may face. So you may be wondering whether these dangerous jobs have any benefits. Amazingly, there are some benefits of these jobs. One of the benefits of doing these jobs is getting high pay. Also, these jobs tend to be rewarding in the long run. For instance, a roofer will be satisfied after seeing the pretty roof they have erected.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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