• 08.21.12

Infographic: The Deadliest Job Isn’t What You Expect

Are we safer at work today than we were 20 years ago?

Infographic: The Deadliest Job Isn’t What You Expect

Fishing, logging, farming, and working as an aircraft pilot / flight engineer count among the most dangerous jobs in America. But in raw numbers, they are not the deadliest. That grim distinction goes to driving.


Truck drivers, sales reps, and other car-bound workers suffered 683 fatal injuries, according to this infographic based on 2011 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more than the combination of all four fields mentioned above.

The chart was developed by the online workplace safety education company eTraining, and it goes beyond simply ticking off America’s most hazardous occupations; it conveys a whole of truckload of stats about on-the-job fatalities, such as where employees die most frequently (the same states, for the most part, with the biggest populations); which gender is most at risk (men, overwhelmingly); and the commonest way workers fall to their death (off a ladder, FTW). “Hopefully, this helps put into perspective the importance of safety at the workplace,” eTraining writes on its blog.

The folks at eTraining, of course, have a stake in freaking everyone out–all the more reason for us to sign up for an eTraining course! But if you look closely, there’s a more interesting narrative here: Workplace deaths have actually plummeted since the early 1990s. The infographic shows 4,547 victims in 2010, compared with 6,217 in 1992.

Whatever the reason for this decrease–a bigger OSHA budget? Stricter regulations? The twilight of industrialization?–it suggests that our working lives are, on a whole, much safer today than they were 20 years ago. Just try to stay off the highway.

[Image: gualtiero boffi/Shutterstock]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.