How do People Die on the Job?

When thinking of employment, we tend to think of our commute, work field, and salary. However, each year in America, thousands of people are killed while on the job. How do people die while at work and what fields are the most risky? It’s a question many are curious about, so much so that we even have TV shows about it like “Deadliest Catch,” “Ice Road Truckers,” and “Ax Men”. We know fisherman have dangerous jobs and death is not uncommon on the high seas, but what are some of the other ways that people die while on the job?

It’s not surprising here that most work related injuries are due to car and truck accidents. Considering that there were 35,092 motor vehicle related deaths in 2015 alone, it’s reasonable to assume that a portion of these occur under the scope of employment each year.

Who dies more, men or women?

It’s not even close. Men die 92% of the time vs 8% for women. Is this because men work more than women? No. While total work hours are higher for men than woman at 57% to 43%, the deaths are heavily disproportionate.

This could be because more men are employed in high risk industries such as the construction, trucking, or logging. Thus, men lead women in all categories of fatal work injuries listed in the first chart above.

The only category that women lead in? Homicides. If you are a woman, you are more likely to be murdered on the job than men. According to, this boils down to two different factors:

  1. They are frequently targeted at work via either harassment or abusive partners. If a women leaves a partner, she can move out of the house, but will likely not change her job. This makes her place of employment a very easy target.
  2. Many women work in healthcare jobs, exposing them to patients who may be mentally unstable or take violent turns under certain conditions.

Which Industries are Most Dangerous?

Looking at the total number of deaths, construction leads the way with 874 deaths in 2014. The transportation industry is second, followed by forestry, agriculture & fishing.

We always hear fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, so why doesn’t it top this list? If you to look at the data by fatal accidents per 100,000, it does lead the way at 25 fatal accidents per 100,000. However, far more people are employed in jobs relating to construction and transportation so these industries are always going to lead in terms of the raw totals. Nevertheless, a fatal work injury can happen to almost anyone in any profession. Even with the creation of OSHA in 1970, which has reduced the number of worker deaths from 38 per day in 1970 to 13 in 2015, worker safety can always improve.

If you work in one of the industries mentioned above, remember that no paycheck is worth your life and to stay safe while on the job.

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