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This Is the Deadliest Job in America, Study Says

The occupation that took the top spot might just surprise you.

Every occupation has its risks, whether you're regularly exposed to pathogens as a healthcare worker or find yourself sore after a long day on your feet waiting tables. However, there are certain jobs that are downright deadly—and they're not necessarily the ones you think. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, business insurance company AdvisorSmith studied which jobs in the U.S. have the highest work-related fatality rates. All the jobs listed have at least 500,000 workers in said field in the U.S. and 263 professions were considered in total. Read on to discover which job was ranked the deadliest occupation in America.

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Mining machine operators

mining machine operators in mine

Fatal injury rate: 11 per 100,000 workers

In 2018, nine mining machine operators in the U.S. lost their lives in workplace accidents. The most common fatal accidents among these workers are related to contact with either equipment or objects in the workplace.

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Construction workers

Construction worker in safety harness and hard hat

Fatal injury rate: 13 per 100,000

The U.S. lost 259 construction workers to workplace accidents in 2018. The most common type of fatal accident among construction workers while at work? Falling on the job.

Maintenance workers

two maintenance workers in yellow vests and helmets

Fatal injury rate: 14 per 100,000

Maintenance workers—a category that includes those involved in building, machine, and mechanical maintenance—lost 64 of their colleagues in work-related accidents in 2018. Most of the maintenance professionals who died due to accidents on the job that year were killed by "contact with objects or equipment."

Police officers

Police Officers on Patrol

Fatal injury rate: 14 per 100,000

While squad cars are the de facto office for many police officers, violence and injuries sustained at the hands of others most commonly contribute to the death of law enforcement officers. In 2018, 108 U.S. police officers succumbed to injuries sustained on the job.

Grounds maintenance workers

grounds maintenance worker mowing lawn

Fatal injury rate: 14 per 100,000

A total of 225 U.S. grounds maintenance workers died due to work-related injuries in 2018. The most common cause of on-the-job death for these professionals was car accidents, frequently when traveling between locations for work.

Heavy vehicle mechanics

mechanic fixing tractor
Shutterstock/Dmitry Kalinovsky

Fatal injury rate: 14 per 100,000

In 2018, 27 U.S. heavy vehicle mechanics died due to job-related injuries. Most of said injuries were related to traffic accidents.

Supervisors of mechanics

three mechanics talking
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Fatal injury rate: 15 per 100,000

It's not just mechanics who are at risk on the job—their supervisors are, too. In 2018, 46 mechanic supervisors died in work-related accidents in the U.S.; most of those accidents were related to violence caused by other people and animals.

Small engine mechanics

young female mechanic working on car

Fatal injury rate: 15 per 100,000

While transportation accidents accounted for most of the eight on-the-job fatalities among U.S. small engine mechanics in 2018, "violence and other injuries by persons or animals" made up the rest.

Cement masons

person pouring cement from chute outdoors
Shutterstock/Pamela Au

Fatal injury rate: 17 per 100,000

Cement masons, who pour and finish concrete for residential and municipal projects, lost 11 workers to on-the-job accidents in the U.S. in 2018. Most of these deaths were attributable to slips and falls.

Highway maintenance workers

highway maintenance worker in yellow vest holding hard hat
Shutterstock/Chanchai phetdikhai

Fatal injury rate: 18 per 100,000

In 2018, 14 U.S. highway maintenance workers lost their lives on the job. The most common cause of death on the job among these workers? Traffic accidents.

Landscaping supervisors

Man Putting Mulch in Yard home problems

Fatal injury rate: 18 per 100,000

A total of 48 landscaping supervisors—managers who supervise groundskeepers, landscapers, and other outdoor maintenance professionals—died in work-related accidents in the U.S. in 2018. Like many other professionals whose work keeps them outdoors, landscaping supervisors' most frequent type of fatal workplace accident is falling.

Construction helpers

installing new windows in a home

Fatal injury rate: 18 per 100,000

Construction helpers, who aid skilled tradespeople on construction projects, saw 11 of their colleagues die on the job in the U.S. in 2018. The most common cause of death for construction helpers is trips and falls on job sites.

Crane operators

30-something man operating crane
Shutterstock/ESB Professional

Fatal injury rate: 19 per 100,000

Crane operators have the 13th deadliest job in the U.S., according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In 2018, nine U.S. crane operators died in accidents related to their work, most of which involved being hit by vehicles or objects.

Crossing guards

male crossing guard in orange vest gesturing to allow people across street

Fatal injury rate: 19 per 100,000

A total of 14 U.S. crossing guards were killed on the job in 2018. Due to the nature of their work, it likely comes as little surprise that the most common cause of death in the workplace for crossing guards is being struck by vehicles.

Agricultural workers

Cow and young male farmer
Nejron Photo/Shutterstock

Fatal injury rate: 20 per 100,000

There were 157 deaths of U.S. agricultural workers—individuals who take care of livestock and crops but aren't considered farmers—in 2018. The most common cause of death among agricultural workers wasn't related to animals or heavy machinery, though—it was work-related transportation accidents.

Power line workers

young worker holding on to power line

Fatal injury rate: 20 per 100,000

In 2018, 29 U.S. power line workers died on the job. While their occupation often includes working from high heights, the most common cause of death among power line workers isn't falls, but electrocution.

Firefighting supervisors

firefighters putting out house fire, fire prevention tips
Shutterstock/Sean Thomforde

Fatal injury rate: 20 per 100,000

It's not exactly surprising that firefighting supervisors—individuals tasked with coordinating and supervising other firefighters—are in a dangerous line of work. What is surprising, however, is that among the 14 U.S. firefighting supervisors who died on the job in 2018, most died in transportation accidents, followed by fires and explosions.


asian farmer attending his crops

Fatal injury rate: 26 per 100,000

Farmers have a surprisingly perilous job—but it's not the animals they care for that are most often responsible for their untimely demises. Among the 257 U.S. farmers killed on the job in 2018, crashes were the most common type of fatal injury.

Delivery drivers

food man delivering groceries to woman

Fatal injury rate: 27 per 100,000

You'd be wise to tip generously the next time you order takeout, considering how perilous being a delivery driver can be. In 2018 alone, 966 delivery drivers died on the job in the U.S., the majority of whom perished in work-related car accidents.


iron worker welding staircase
Shutterstock/SERDAR YAZICI

Fatal injury rate: 29 per 100,000

In 2018, 15 U.S. ironworkers died from injuries sustained on the job. Falls are the most common cause of job-related mortality for these professionals.

Garbage collectors

two garbage collectors loading black garbage bags into truck

Fatal injury rate: 34 per 100,000

Your local trash collector is doing a more dangerous job than you might realize. In 2018, 37 garbage collectors died on the job in the U.S., the majority of whom died from injuries related to being hit by a garbage truck or other vehicle.


Man laying new tile on the roof

Fatal injury rate: 41 per 100,000

You might want to be extra nice to that worker patching the shingles on your roof—they're doing a surprisingly dangerous job, after all. In 2018, 96 U.S. roofers died on the jobs, with most succumbing to injuries related to slips, trips, and falls.

Derrick operators in oil, gas, and mining

oil drill derrick operator
Shutterstock/Oil and Gas Photographe

Fatal injury rate: 46 per 100,000

Derrick operators are the workers tasked with ensuring that drills used in industries like oil, gas, and mining, continue to run smoothly. In 2018, 70 derrick operators in the oil, gas, and mining industries died in work-related accidents, the majority of which were associated with either contact with equipment or transportation accidents.

Aircraft pilots and flight engineers

pilot checking his tablet

Fatal injury rate: 53 per 100,000

While pilots and flight engineers may be in a dangerous line of work, those who fly smaller planes are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than the pilots of commercial aircrafts. In 2018, 70 pilots and flight engineers died on the job.

Logging workers

lumberjack chopping logs in forest

Fatal injury rate: 111 per 100,000

In 2018, 56 U.S. logging workers lost their lives on the job, with contact injuries from either logs or logging equipment causing most logging worker deaths. In fact, loggers are 33 times more likely to experience a fatal accident at work than the average U.S. worker.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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