Workplace Injury Statistics/Most Dangerous Work Occupations

Workplace injuries are a significant concern for U.S. employers and employees. One would expect the workplace to be a safe place. However, statistics show this may not be the case for every job. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) informed us in 2020 that there were around 2.8 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the workplace. This statistic means around 2.8 injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time employees. Aside from the cost to families directly, workplace injuries cost employers a lot of money, $170.8 billion in 2018. 

Workplace Fatality Statistics in the United States

BLS reports that there were approximately 4,764 fatal workplace injuries in 2020. That number was slightly down from the 2019 total of 5,333. But, by 2021, post-pandemic, the numbers had rebounded to 5,190. 

These statistics show us that in 2021, an occupational injury took an employee’s life every 101 minutes. Transportation incidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, but they are not the only cause of death. These deaths can be blamed on various situations. 

The statistics accompanying those are listed below: 

  • 42% of fatal accidents in the workplace were attributed to transportation incidents
  • Slip-and-fall accidents caused 17% of deaths
  • 16% were injuries caused by other people or animals
  • 15% of workplace deaths happened because of contact with objects or equipment
  • Harmful substances caused 6% of deaths in the environments 
  • 4% of workplace deaths can be blamed on fires and explosions.

Statistics Demonstrating Nonfatal Accidents in the Workplace

In 2020, in addition to deaths caused by injuries, 2.8 million people were involved in workplace injuries and illnesses. Some further information on these statistics is listed below: 

  • 30% are made up of sprains, tears, and strains
  • 17% were limited to soreness and pain
  • 11% are puncture wounds, lacerations, and cuts

Reasons for the Nonfatal Workplace Accidents and Injuries

  • 32% were injuries and illnesses due to overexertion or negative bodily reactions
  • Trip, slip, and fall accidents make up 25% of the causes of workplace accidents
  • 24% of workplace injuries are caused by objects and equipment

The United States’ Most Dangerous Jobs

By nature, some careers are more dangerous than others. Here are the ten most dangerous U.S. jobs, based on fatality and injury statistics.

Logging Workers

Loggers lead the workforce with the highest fatality rate of United States occupations. In 2020, the industry lost 49 workers to fatal injuries, meaning that the fatality rate for logging workers is 97.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. Most injuries were due to contact with objects and equipment, such as falling trees, skidders, saws, and cables.

Fishing Industry Workers

Fishers and those working in the fishing industry is another of the most dangerous job in the nation due to a high workplace fatality rate. Bringing the rate of death in fishing-related careers to 59.3 per 100,000. In 2020, there were 31 fatalities, most commonly caused by drowning.

Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

In 2020, there were 47 flight engineers and pilots killed in the workplace. The most common causes of those deaths were transportation related. The fatality rate for those careers is 55.5 deaths per 100,000 workers.


Working at those heights can lead to an increase in workplace accidents. These accidents are typically not fatal, but 5.5 workers are injured per 100 full-time employees. Slip and fall accidents are the typical cause. 

Iron and Steel Workers

Workers in the iron and steel sector have a disturbingly high fatality rate, with 39.7 fatalities per 100,000 workers. In 2020, there were 17 fatal injuries. Most of the fatalities in this industry were caused by slip, trip, and fall accidents.

Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors 

Trash collectors have a high rate of nonfatal injuries. They are often struck by objects and involved in trip, slip, and fall accidents. There are about 4.8 injuries for every 100 full-time employees in the field. 

Farm and Ranch Jobs

Farmers and ranchers have a high rate of fatalities, with 24.7 per 100,000 deaths. In 2020, the agricultural industry lost 250 ranchers, farmers, and agricultural managers. Transportation incidents, contact with equipment or foreign objects, and slip-and-fall accidents are the most common causes of workplace deaths.

Construction Workers

Another dangerous job is construction work. There are many nonfatal injuries at a rate of 4.7 per 100 full-time workers. These injuries are commonly caused by falls, being struck by objects, and bodily reaction injuries. Extreme weather conditions can also contribute to these injuries. 

Transportation Related Occupations

Truck drivers and material moving jobs are to blame for around 3.7 injuries per hundred workers. Transportation incidents, slip and fall accidents, and being struck by objects are some of the common causes of on-the-job industries in this field. 

Law Enforcement Jobs

Police officers have a high rate of nonfatal injuries. Typically, these are caused by overexertion, being struck by objects, bodily reactions, and car accidents. Injuries in law enforcement occur at a rate of 3.5 per 100 full-time workers.  

Prevention of Injuries in the Workplace

Employees and employers want to avoid the significant impact that workplace injuries have on families, businesses, and the economy. There are various things that employers can do to create a safer workplace. Strategies include implementing safety protocols, training, and education, addressing potential hazards, and providing health and wellness programs.

If you have questions about workplace safety and on-the-job work hazards, contact Ramsey Law Group for answers.