A recent al.com article discussed the jobs with the highest workplace fatality rates. What are the deadliest jobs? While the article discusses current statistics, the overall types of deadly and dangerous work remain similar year-after-year. You can read the article at Jobs With The Highest Fatality Rates In The US. Here is the top 10 list:
10. Farmers, Ranchers, Other Agricultural Workers (20.9 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 207)
9. Underground Mining Machine Operators (21.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 10)
8. Sales And Delivery Drivers (25.8 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 887)
7. Structural Iron And Steel Workers (32.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 16)
6. Refuse And Recyclable Material Collectors (33.1 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 30)
5. Aircraft Pilots And Flight Engineers (34.3 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 50)
4. Construction Trades And Helpers (43.3 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 19)
3. Roofers (47.0 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 88)
2. Logging Workers (91.7 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 42)
1. Fishing And Hunting Workers (132.1 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers; Total fatal work injuries of 42)
These are some interesting statistics for the most recent year. What are some quick takeaways from the data?
Takeaway Number 1: Across The Entire U.S., Construction Work Remains The Most Deadly
I know, the article lists Fishing / Hunting work and logging jobs as the top 2 most deadly jobs. But, you need to look a little closer at the data. If you live in one of Alabama’s cities or towns, how many people do you know that work full-time fishing or hunting? I mean people who really work in those jobs, not just neighbors who spend all their free time fishing!
Construction work includes the 3rd most deadly work of roofing, the 4th most deadly work of construction trades / helpers, and the 7th most deadly work of structural iron and steel workers. Added together, these jobs have a rate of 122.8 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. And, they have a total number of fatal work injuries for the last year of data at 123. I believe that overall construction work is the most deadly major work in our country.
Based on the rate of deaths, these jobs are almost as dangerous as fishing / hunting work. However, based on the total number of deaths, these jobs are far deadlier. Again, fishing / hunting jobs are pretty limited in number and scope to narrow areas of the United States. Construction-related work exists across the United States.
In Alabama, cities like Huntsville and Tuscaloosa are experiencing rapid growth. Around my office in downtown Huntsville, I can watch several tall buildings being constructed. Construction jobs are booming. And, this work is very dangerous.
Construction work presents several serious dangers. The most deadly construction-related danger year-after-year — Falls from heights. That’s a topic I’ve addressed several times on this blog. Over the years, I’ve had numerous construction worker clients who fell from significant heights. Those falls are almost always deadly or disabling.
Other deadly hazards often involve lock out / tag out issues, mechanical or moving equipment, electrocution, and trench collapses. In just the last couple years, the Huntsville / Madison area has seen two deadly trench collapses that could have easily been prevented with just a few safety precautions. I’ve represented construction workers injured by each of these dangers. Each one presents unique challenges. A little planning could prevent almost every construction accident.
Takeaway Number 2: Driving May Have The Highest Total Number Of Deaths But It’s NOT The Most Deadly Work
You may be surprised with my heading claiming that driving is not the most deadly work. After all, that category of job did have the most fatalities for the year at over 800.
Keep in mind the huge volume of people who drive as part of their jobs! Some workers spend every minute of their work on the roadway. Yes, the overall number of deaths is higher. But, the rate of deaths per worker is not. The rate of fatalities among delivery drivers is lower than each of the individual construction categories.
I’m not trying to minimize the risk of driving for a living. I write frequently about highway safety, including impaired driving and distracted driving. Car accidents and safety are a top priority for us. At our law office, car and truck accidents are our most common claims. We can and should make our highways much safer.
Takeaway Number 3: Deadly And Disabling Jobs Are Often Very Different
The al.com article only discusses “deadly” jobs. What jobs have the highest fatalities? With jobs, we see a huge difference between deadly jobs and disabling jobs.
For example, nursing is one of the most disabling jobs in America. I’ve written several times on that subject. Nurses are often required to stand on hard floors for long shifts. Nurses are often required to lift or move heavy patients. Patients rarely stay still. Imagine lifting a 200+ pound man who won’t stay still! On top of the physical parts of the job, add the stress. Long shifts. Non-compliant patients. Too little staff support. And, a worldwide pandemic. Nurses have a huge risk of serious back injury from their jobs. Nursing may not be the most deadly work but it is one of the most disabling. At our firm, we are always helping several nursing clients who suffered serious back injuries. I cannot recall any time in the past where we did not have several nurse clients.
Another example is warehouse work. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) recently cited an Athens company over a forklift accident death. Forklift deaths are pretty rare. What’s not rare in a warehouse — Back and neck injuries. Workers spend their shifts lifting and moving objects. Time is important. Many of these workers suffer spine injuries, some disabling. The work may not have a high fatality rate but it does have a high rate of musculoskeletal injury.
Finally, you have to recognize that so many people are needlessly injured every day on the highway. From minor injuries to disabling brain and spine injuries, car and truck accidents take a huge toll on people.
What Should You Do Following The Loss Of A Loved One In A Work-Related Accident
If you lose a loved one in a work-related accident, your family needs to discuss the legal issues with an experienced attorney. Alabama law provides workers’ compensation death benefits. However, these benefits are limited to dependents (as defined by the statute). They are also limited in time and amount. Personally, I think work comp benefits are unfairly limited. Working men and women deserve better.
In some cases, you may not be limited to just work comp benefits. Your family may also have a wrongful death case if a third-party (someone other than the employer) caused the accident. Let’s use a car accident as an example — A person works as a delivery driver. They are driving down the road when a truck runs a red light and crashes into them. If injured, the delivery driver may have both a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and a separate claim (called a third-party claim) against the truck driver who ran the red light. If the delivery driver was killed in the crash, his or her family may be able to pursue these two claims.
Whenever a worker or his family possesses both work comp and third-party negligence claims, the law can be complicated. You need to discuss those claims with a lawyer experienced at handling both. That is so very important. Too many lawyers handle one type of claim but ignore the other. Often, a lawyer will take the car accident case but refuse to take the work comp claim. You should run from that lawyer as fast as you can. Why does the lawyer just want the car accident portion — He thinks its an easier case with a bigger fee! But, by ignoring your comp claim, he may be costing you or your family money. To recover the maximum amount of damages in the claims, you must work the two cases together. That requires a lawyer who understands both.
From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm helps injured workers and their families across Alabama. We are Alabama accident and injury lawyers who have appeared in courtrooms statewide. If you have questions about any accident or injury issue, let us know. We are happy to discuss your questions and provide the answers you need. We also hope our articles help provide needed information. Our consultations are always free and confidential.