Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs of 2020

May 27, 2020
These are the most dangerous occupations in the U.S., as measured by fatal work injury rate.

The first question one might ask when examining a list of the United States’ most dangerous occupations is: How high on the list did nursing home and healthcare workers place on the list, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

That’s a great question, but we won’t know the answer to that for a couple years. This list, as in years past, is based on workplace fatality data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and their data lags the current year by two years. In other words, this list is based on 2018 workplace data, so it will be a while until we know how seriously COVID-19 impacted healthcare workers. (In 2018, though, healthcare professionals were near the very bottom of the list.)

Again, as in years past, this list of the Top 10 most dangerous jobs is based on fatal work injury rate, which is calculated per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. While the BLS also tracks total number of workplace deaths (as usual, truck drivers led the list), the fatal work injury rate factors in the relative danger inherent in a job. Since there are far more truck drivers employed than many of the other occupations on the list, the Top 10 list offers a closer look at exactly how often a worker dies while employed in a specific industry.

There was some movement in the rankings compared to last year. For instance, the number one and number two slots switched places. And slots 6-10 are all different from last year. Also, Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers dropped off the Top 10 (unlike Casey Kasem’s legendary Top 10, when you fall off this list, it’s a good thing), and a new occupation joined the list: First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers.

Overall, 2018 was not a good year for workers, as the number of fatal work injuries in the U.S. increased by 2%, from 5,147 in 2017 to 5,250 in 2018. The fatal work injury rate remained unchanged, at 3.5 per 100,000 workers. So clearly, a significant amount of work still needs to be done to make our jobs and industries safer.

You can compare this year's list to previous years by clicking on the links below:

Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs of 2019

Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs of 2018

About the Author

Dave Blanchard | Editor-in-Chief / Senior Director of Content

During his career Dave Blanchard has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeek, EHS Today, Material Handling & Logistics, Logistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. Prior to joining Endeavor/Informa/Penton, he spent a decade covering the artificial intelligence industry. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. 

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