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Mar 6, 2006

By Ian Harrison

If you cut timber in Oregon or drive a taxi in Oakland, you must read this article. But then again, you probably already know what many in America do not: You have one of the most dangerous jobs around and may not make it out of your 9 to 5 alive. Postal workers got a lot of negative press back in the day when a few of them went on rampages and shot up a bunch of people. These sensational acts of violence drew an inordinate amount of media attention away from the truth. Can you handle it? A decade ago, when mailmen first went "postal," cab drivers, convenience store clerks, security guards, and police officers were being assaulted and killed at a much higher rate. In 1994 for example, there were 1,071 workplace homicides and an additional one million people were physically beaten on the job. Retail sales supervisors, cashiers, cab drivers, and restaurant managers were at the top of the list. And you thought your job sucked.

brace yourself

In 2001, occupational homicides were down to 639. Statistics provide small comfort nonetheless, to a math teacher in inner-city Baltimore or an abortion clinic doctor in a remote NRA stronghold area of the Bible Belt. Despite a swirl of negative media hype about these jobs however, they do not even register a blip in the stats. Let me put it this way: if you work in the service or retail sector, watch your back.
Hey, 7-Eleven manager! If you trust the good folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, your life is on the line. White men need to look out too; they bear the brunt of over half the workplace homicides that occur in America every year. But forget Caucasians. Men in general have it bad as homicide victims on the job, with 80% being the consistent figure over the past decade. This is gender equality?

Uncouth humor aside, homicides did account for 11% of occupational deaths among males between 1980-92. Forget how old the data is and focus on the same figure for women: 42%. Four in 10 females who expire on the job do so as a result of homicide. And the vast majority of those murders occur with a firearm -- as do all workplace homicides -- and at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend.

occupational hazards

I can crunch the numbers until the end of time. The purpose here though, is to outline the most dangerous jobs in America. Yes, if you ply your trade with the Navy Seals or Delta Force, you have more to worry about than any blue or white collar stiff. Nonetheless, here is the bottom line, guys: if you work with heavy machinery, electrical equipment, firearms, livestock, in high places, in a forest, on a truck, or on a water vessel, your risk of not making it home for dinner is much higher than that of the general population. You may not even make it to lunch.

Here are the most dangerous jobs in America:


Men (and women) who labor in the production of crops account for over 40% of the occupational deaths in the agricultural industry. That discounts the amount of deaths for livestock farmers and those in the employ of the agricultural service sector. This may strike some as a bit of a surprise, until you take a look at how farmers kick the bucket on the job the majority of times: transportation incidents (tractors are heavy) and close contact with "objects" and equipment. I remember a visit to a farm when I was in grade school and Old Macdonald had a lot of freaky tools. The moral here: be careful around that barn or else they may hold the next Farm Aid benefit concert in your honor.


Whether you mine coal or diamonds, this is a dirty and dangerous business. Coal miners get a lot of press and do account for about a quarter of the occupational deaths in the industry, but if you work in oil or gas extraction, man do I feel sorry for you. Your kind makes up well over half of the deaths in the industry. Ouch. Solar power anyone?

Heads up to construction workers, fishermen, and those in retail.

Construction worker

These men take some serious abuse. In 2001, 1,225 people in the industry fell, which is way more than for the previous category. This is not much of a shock when you think about the kind of conditions they have to work in, day in and day out. Your office is in essence a pile of metal, concrete and brick and there are tons of massive tools and equipment around. The margin of error is high and so is the altitude where these men regularly do their work. Is it much of a surprise then that falls account for the majority of deaths in most sectors of the construction industry? If you wear a hardhat, watch your step.

Timber cutter

Anyone who works in the forest, in a mill or with wood is at risk. Why? One word: saws. They are sharp and slice flesh like a knife in hot butter. No surprise then that contact with objects and equipment is the number one culprit in the deaths of people who work in the lumber industry. Duh.


As a weekend pastime, we love to bait a hook and drop it into a stream, river or lake, and sit back with a cold one. Hey, that is as American as apple pie. But for the men and women who fish for commercial purposes, it is a dangerous, dangerous business. The weather conditions can be fierce and there are no shortages of grisly ways one can be mutilated, impaled, dismembered, and killed. Hey, remember the psycho from I Know What You Did Last Summer ? That hook was damn sharp! Don't even get me started on The Perfect Storm . So the next time you chow down on some tuna sashimi, raise a glass of sake in praise of these brave souls.

Truck driver

Keep on truckin'. Easy in theory but you get behind the wheel of a monster on 18 wheels and drive from Pensacola to Tacoma. The mental strain on the men (and women) who drive these massive vehicles is enormous. The transportation industry as a whole is a tough grind, but truckers in particular, more so than pilots, train operators or even the notorious cab drivers, have it bad. They make up well over half of the deaths in the industry from one year to the next. No wonder the job is so lucrative to those who stick it out. My suggestion? Think twice before you apply. A career in the military is less dangerous, even these days.

Anyone in Retail

This is not a joke. The category is broad however; so let me break it down for you:

If you work at a convenience store, a gas station, a grocery store, a corner store, a liquor store, a diner, or a bar, run. Run like the wind because you are going to die my friend. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not ever I admit, but your chances for long life pale in comparison to Jorge the tollbooth operator. If your last name is Kim and you sell wine in Watts, good luck to you.

Anyone in the service sector

Again, the net cast here is wide. You think?

Raise a white flag if you operate the roller coaster at Six Flags and press on the brake if you repair automobiles (115 of your kind lost their lives on the job in 2001). Any repair job has inherent dangers to beware of, as do jobs where you lease heavy equipment and machinery.

All of a sudden, I have never been so happy at my incompetence around tools. Give me a hammer and a nail and observe my blank stare. Who cares? I have a long life ahead of me as a result.

On to the bravest of them all....

Law enforcement officers

The events of September 11, 2001 made the nation aware of just how deadly a job the men and women who protect us every day have. Attacks of terror aside however, these people deal with the most repugnant characters in society on a regular basis. Because the potential for harm and death is so great, your local police force and anyone who works in the name of justice, public order and safety, deserves your adulation and respect. To serve and protect indeed.


The name reveals all you need to know: these people fight fires . Holy cow, what could be more dangerous than that? Drop the old-school image of the fireman with his ladder up a tree to save the nice kitty cat. This profession has the potential to be lethal. Did you not see Backdraft ? And what about smokejumpers -- the people who jump out of planes and helicopters to wage war against forest fires? You have to be tough as nails to do that kind of work. I like my computer very much, thank you.

some risky business

Jobs that kill. Can you just see it on FOX? There are many, many more dangerous jobs in America, of course. Let me just say that if you work on a highway, in a psychiatric ward, with refuse or in refuse sanitation, with wild animals, in a zoo or circus, in the bomb squad, or as a minesweeper (not a common occupation in America), there are some very unique ways for you to succumb to a fatal injury on the job. Watch out people; I want you to enjoy that pension plan.

On that note, let me give credit to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for some wonderful and very informative data, as well as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Big thanks as well to Fred Blosser, of the NIOSH Public Affairs Division.

Credit for this article go to ""

1. Farmer
2. Miner
3. Construction worker
4. Timber cutter
5. Fisherman
6. Truck driver
7. Retail
8. Service Jobs
9. Law enforcement officers
10. Firefighters
Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Mar 6, 2006 5:39am
Nov 10, 2005
    • It never ceases to amaze me to see intellegent people driving vehicles and act like they have no brain at all.
    • Why do people insist on NOT putting thier beautiful babies in Car seats?
    • Why do people put kids in their laps while they drive?
    • How brainless is it to put their precious fur babies in their laps while they drive, nomatter how well they behave in the car?
    • What in GODS NAME do people think when they stick a cell phone in their ear when they drive? Is that call worth your life, or maybe 50 others?
    • Gee Wiz folks, can you pull over and eat that Big Mac? Do you have to eat it while you drive? Does it make it taste better?
    • Excuse me, I am NOT a MIND READER! If you are turning right, TELL ME!
    • Come'on, why do you have to ride your breaks. It won't stop it any faster! I'll just be up you butt if you hit them too hard.
    • People, if you are going on a trip, TRIP PLAN! Know where you are going before you hit the road. Please don't stop to look at your map unless you pull over to a safe place.
    • Look, what the hellion do you get out of going 10 miles under the spead limit, and you only 32!
    • I hate to tell you, when you race to the redlight, it doesn't make it change.

1. Unbelted Children or toddlers not in carseats.
2. People who put their kids in their laps while driving.
3. People who allow there dogs to sit in their laps while driving.
4. People who use Cell Phones while driving.
5. People munching on BIG MACS while driving.
6. People who DON'T use turn signals.
7. People who ride their breaks.
8. Confused People.
9. People who drive 10 miles under the speed limit in the fast lane.
10. People who race to the redlight.
Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Nov 10, 2005 8:27pm


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Kicka P.
, 1, 4 children
Chicago, IL, USA
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