University of Nottingham Malaysia
Division of
Organisational and Applied Psychology

Work buzz: Most dangerous jobs

Work Buzz News

Most Dangerous Jobs

Many of us go to our jobs without even thinking that we could suffer a paper cut or be exposed to a more significant hazard in our work engagement. There are thousands of other workers who place themselves in danger every time they punch the clock. From to inner-city violence and crime to acts of nature - these professionals risk their lives to provide us with information, build our roads and homes, keep the community safe, our supermarket shelves stocked and utilities running.

In August 2009, the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics released its annual report identifying the industries and occupations that had the most fatal work injuries. In 2008, there were 5,071 fatal work injuries and a fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers in the US. While this figure seems to be lowering due to wider dissemination of occupational health information and increased awareness of workplace safety, there are other psychological factors associated with dangerous and high-risk occupations which need to be considered and explored further in research.

The United States Bureau of Labour Statistics suggests that the recent economic downtown has contributed to the decline in the number of fatalities. Surprised? Well, due to the fact that there were fewer jobs available, there were automatically fewer workers susceptible injury or harm overall, but this finding only partially explains the observed trend. On the flip side, the volatility of the US economy in recent times has been correlated to the rise of workplace suicides, which were reported to be up 28 percent (251 cases) in 2008. Whether the gradual recovery of Western economies is later associated with lowered workplace suicide rates remains to be seen.

There is a dearth of information on the most dangerous jobs within the ASEAN, however we were curious to see, based on the most up-to-date survey of jobs in the United States, which occupations ranked as the most hazardous.


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Occupations with highest fatality rates (2008)

1. Fishers & related fishing workers 128.9

2. Logging workers 115.7

3. Aircraft pilots & flight engineers 72.4

4. Structural iron & steel workers 46.4

5. Farmers & ranchers 39.5

6. Refuse & recyclable material collectors 36.8

7. Roofers 34.4

8. Electrical power line installers & repairers 29.8

9. Driver/sales workers & truck drivers 22.8

10.Taxi drivers & chauffeurs 19.3


Jobs with the most fatalities (2008)

1. Motor vehicle operators 908 (66 were highway-related)

2. Construction trades workers 720 (37 were attributed to falls)

3. Material moving workers 248(14 fall-related fatalities and 12 were struck by objects)

4. Law enforcement workers 144 (38 were highway-related and 33 were homicides)

5. Agricultural workers 33 (19 highway-related fatalities)

6. Grounds maintenance workers 128 (20 deaths each from falls and being struck by an object)

7. Sales supervisors 124 (52 homicides)

8. Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, repairers 110 (30 were struck by objects)

9. Supervisors, construction and extraction workers 108 (24 fall-related deaths)

10. Metal or plastic workers 102 (15 from being struck by an object and 13 from falls)

Industries with the most fatalities (2008)

1. Construction

  • Number of deaths: 969
  • Fatality rate: 9.6

2. Transportation & warehousing

  • Number of deaths: 762
  • Fatality rate: 14.2

3.  Agriculture, forestry, & fishing

  • Number of deaths: 651
  • Fatality rate: 29.4

4.  Government

  • Number of deaths: 522
  • Fatality rate: 2.3

5.  Manufacturing

  • Number of deaths: 404
  • Fatality rate: 2.5

6.  Professional services

  • Number of deaths: 389
  • Fatality rate: 2.7

7.  Retail trade

  • Number of deaths: 290
  • Fatality rate: 2

8.  Leisure & hospitality

  • Number of deaths: 233
  • Fatality rate: 2.2

9.  Wholesale trade

  • Number of deaths: 175
  • Fatality rate: 4.2

10.  Mining

  • Number of deaths: 175
  • Fatality rate: 18


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