Safe at work? Deadliest jobs involve driving

A toppled big rig in Ontario last year. The driver freed himself from the wreckage and complained of minor pain in his leg. Many others aren't so lucky.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Police officers don’t have the most dangerous jobs. Working with machinery isn’t the safest of occupations, but it’s not the worst. Turns out, the deadliest profession belongs to sales reps and truck drivers.

Last year, 683 such vehicle-bound workers died on the job, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled by online workplace safety education company eTraining. Nearly 4 in 10 fatalities involved transportation.

The next most hazardous profession was farming and ranching, which claimed 300 lives. Other common causes of on-the-job deaths involved violence, equipment and falls.


But when considering the fatality rate – the number of deaths per 100,000 full-time workers – workers in the fishing industry had by the far the highest, with 116 deaths. Next was logging, which lost nearly 92 workers for each 100,000, followed by aircraft pilots and flight engineers.

Still, as Fast Co. points out in a blog post, the number of workplace deaths is down significantly to 4,547 victims in 2010 from 6,217 in 1992. The number of fatalities peaked in 1994, with 6,632 deaths.

Over the same two-decade period, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration nearly double its budget to $558 million from $296 million.

Considering that men are responsible for just 56% of all working hours, their share of on-the-job fatalities -- 92% -- is disproportionate. In the U.S., foreign-born workers involved in fatal incidents were most likely to be from Mexico – claiming 38% of all deaths.

The biggest portion of deaths – 456 – happened in Texas, followed by 302 in California. Pennsylvania, Florida and Illinois had more than 200 deaths each.

In 2010, the California Department of Industrial Relations reported 531,700 occupational injuries and illnesses in the state.



Disability claims rise even as work injuries decline

Software engineers have the best jobs, lumberjacks the worst

Middle-class income and wealth fell in last 10 years, survey shows

Follow Tiffany Hsu on Twitter and Google+