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Do You Work One of the 12 Most Dangerous Jobs in the Country?

Published December 7, 2023 by Matt Fendon Law Group | Firm News

Every job you can think of carries some chance of injury, however minute the risk may seem in some cases. For example, you might sit in a chair all day long at work, yet by turning “just the wrong way” in your seat, you could still sprain your back without even getting up.

Still, some jobs are more dangerous than others, and a few jobs in the United States generally and in Arizona in particular have an earned reputation for carrying a higher risk of being hurt or even killed at work.

No matter where you work, or what your occupation is, if your Arizona employer participates in the state’s system of workers’ compensation insurance, then you likely have a right to compensation benefits when you suffer an injury, illness, or medical condition during your employment.

If you have been hurt on the job, or if you have lost a loved one to a work-related fatal injury, we can help you to understand your legal rights under workers’ compensation laws and to take action. Call us at (800) 229-3880 to talk with one of our experienced Arizona workers comp lawyers in a free initial consultation.

At the Matt Fendon Law Group, we are specialists in Arizona workers compensation insurance benefits and settlements. We have offices in many Arizona locations, including one likely near to you. 

What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs to Work in America?

America is a big country, and not all states are the same when it comes to their economies and the kinds of jobs those economies support. For example, some states rely more on mining, agriculture, or manufacturing than others do.

Still, as we will see, there are some jobs that are needed everywhere—and some of those jobs carry a significantly higher risk of occupational injury or death than most others.

But before we discuss the most dangerous jobs in America, we need to explain how we made our decisions. 

Work Injury Numbers Versus Work Injury Rates

Some occupations, while important, require few workers. Logging is one such job. Conversely, construction is an example of an essential job field that requires a larger influx of workers. Both logging and construction have dangerous conditions with high rates of employee deaths and injuries. But construction employs many more people than logging does, so it follows that we can expect many more construction workers to be injured in a year than loggers.

Does this mean that construction is more dangerous than logging? Not necessarily. Especially if we calculate the numbers of deaths as rates within their respective industries.

Let’s use another example. We will compare fatal work injuries in three industries: construction, transportation, and agriculture.

If we only look at the numbers of transportation incidents and construction industry fatal accidents, then it looks like construction might be the most dangerous job among the three:

Number and rate of fatal work injuries, by private industry sector, 2021

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

But once we factor in the number of deaths against the number of workers in each industry, a different picture reveals itself:

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

So, when we consider the risk of death for agricultural workers compared to other such workers, we can see that their surviving relatives are almost three times more likely to need to file a workers comp claim than the other two occupations would. Meaning that comparatively speaking, construction work is safer compared to logging, which has the highest fatal injury rate.

The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America by Fatal Injury Rate

Now that we understand the importance of measuring the riskiness of a job by its injury or fatality rate instead of just the numbers of injuries, we can better understand what the most dangerous occupations are in the United States as a whole. 

They are, in order:

  1. Loggers
  2. Workers in fishing and hunting activities
  3. Roofers
  4. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
  5. Structural iron and steel workers
  6. Truck drivers, delivery drivers, and other vehicle drivers
  7. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  8. Underground mining machine operators
  9. Construction trade helpers
  10. Electrical power line installers and repair workers
the 10 most dangerous jobs in america by fatal injury rate

The Top 12 Most Dangerous USA Industries for Workplace Deaths

For any given year, rankings for the most dangerous industries can fluctuate. But if we look over a decade’s worth of data from 2012 through 2021, then we have enough data to estimate that in general the most dangerous industries—each measured by its occupational fatal accident rate—are:

  1. Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
  2. Transportation and warehousing
  3. Mining
  4. Construction laborers
  5. Wholesale trading 
  6. Utilities
  7. Professional and other business services 
  8. Manufacturing
  9. Government
  10. Retail trade
  11. Information services
  12. Financial activities

What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs in Arizona?

As we mentioned earlier, not every state’s economy is the same. These differences mean that each state has its own variations on what its most high-risk occupations are for death and injury.

Based on available occupational safety statistics, we have identified the industries and occupations in Arizona in which you are most at risk for being killed or injured at work.

The 12 Deadliest Occupations in Arizona

Nationally, as the illustration below shows, Arizona is in the middle range when it comes to annual workplace deaths.

Based on industry numbers available for the year 2020 we can see that for total number of deaths (not fatality rates), the following are the 12 occupations you can engage in as an Arizona resident that registered the most deaths:

Number of fatal work injuries by state, 2021

Based on industry numbers available for the year 2020 we can see that for total number of deaths (not fatality rates), the following are the 12 occupations you can engage in as an Arizona resident that registered the most deaths:

12 occupations with the highest fatalities for arizona residents

The BLS has further broken down Arizona fatal occupational injuries by the event that caused the death:

percent distribution of total fatal occupational injuries by event


  • Transportation accidents and exposure to harmful substances or environments accounted for more than half of all Arizona workplace fatalities. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people who work as employees.
  • Violence and other injuries caused by other workers or by animals caused 17 workplace deaths, making this the third-most common cause of on-the-job fatalities.
  • Being struck by heavy equipment or dangerous objects caused 14 work-related deaths. This was the most common cause of workplace death for self-employed workers.

The 12 Most Dangerous Professions in Arizona for Injuries

Most analyses of the most dangerous occupations in America or in Arizona focus on their risk of worker deaths. But nationally workers compensation claims usually involve injured workers who live, and Arizona is no exception.

If your workplace injury is nonfatal, then Arizona workers compensation law can provide you with benefits for reasonable and necessary medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, and partial lost wages.

The following are the 12 Arizona industries and occupations that carry the greatest risk of you being hurt on the job, based on their accident and illness rates:

12 risky arizona jobs with high accident and illness rates
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Arizona 2022 incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry

Call Us About Your Arizona Workplace Injury Claim

If you see your job mentioned above, that does not necessarily mean that it is a bad job, or that you should find other employment. It does, however, mean there are associated risks of hazardous conditions that you should be aware of and that your employer should do its best to help you avoid. When you do dangerous work, it is important to understand proper safety protocols and carefully follow them because unsafe practices could have serious consequences.

It is also important to understand that if you receive an injury at work, you may have options. Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to protect injured workers from some of the financial burdens that can develop as a result of a workplace injury.

At the Matt Fendon Law Group, we are dedicated Arizona workers compensation attorneys who are highly experienced with helping injured workers just like you to understand their rights, file claims for workers compensation benefits, and to negotiate full and final settlements with workers comp insurance companies.

We have offices in Phoenix, Prescott, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, and Tucson. Let us show you how we can help you with your Arizona workers’ comp case. We provide straightforward advice, help you understand your legal options, and can help you recover compensation. 

Call us today at (800) 229-3880 to schedule a confidential, free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Phoenix. Or, if you prefer, you can contact us online to ask a question or to schedule a free consultation.

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