Miners and police officers face many dangers. In 2009, the most recent year for which we have statistics, 101 miners and 97 police officers and security guards died on the job, making for a roughly similar fatality rate of around 13 deaths per 100,000 workers.
But neither cracks the top 10 on our list of America's Most Dangerous Jobs. Going by fatality rates, workers have more to worry about in such seemingly mundane professions as roofing, farming and sanitation.
Across the country the rate of occupational fatalities is 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers. Many deaths are unrelated to the work itself: Four in 10 workplace deaths in 2009 took place while driving. Another 18 percent involved assaults and homicide — something you could argue is a risk no matter what industry you work in.
Other leading causes included explosions (3 percent of deaths), falls (14 percent), exposure to harmful substances (9 percent) and being struck by objects (10 percent). Altogether 4,340 people died on the job in 2009.
Still, it does matter what career path you choose. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) database, the 10 most dangerous industries to work in are anywhere from six to 60 times as dangerous as the average workplace.
First on the list is fishing, as anyone who's seen Deadliest Catch on Discovery might guess. In the last year on record, 56 fishermen died, a colossal fatality rate of 200 per 100,000 workers, or 0.2 percent. Loggers and pilots are the only other jobs that come close to being that dangerous, each with 0.006 percent annual death rates. Construction (800 deaths) and transportation and warehousing (586 deaths) registered the largest number of deaths per sector, though their occupational fatality rates hovered around 0.002 percent.
Government statisticians are only able to track safety for large job categories. "There have to be at least 15 fatalities out of 20,000 full-time employees," says Steve Pegula, an economist at the BLS.
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