Great news! The United States had about 300 fewer fatal work injuries in 2012 than in 2011, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, still, a preliminary total of 4,383 Americans died from injuries on the job last year.
What are the most dangerous industries to work in?
Construction is one place to start. In 2012, 775 people suffered fatal injuries in the private construction sector, up 5 percent from 2011. Construction and extraction occupations made up 19 percent of the total fatal occupational injuries, with 838 fatalities. Workers in the construction trades alone made up 13 percent of the total.
The number of construction and extraction deaths far outpaced the number of law-enforcement fatalities (119) or firefighting and prevention deaths (18). On the whole, there were just 116 on-the-job deaths due to fires and explosions. Which sounds like good news, compared with 144 fire and explosions deaths in 2011.
But, by far, the most lethal jobs in America are in the transportation and material-moving sector. There were 1,150 deaths in those jobs in 2012, accounting for 26 percent of all occupational fatalities. The bulk of those fatalities (817) were motor-vehicle operators. Transportation is dangerous for all workers, however: Last year racked up 1,789 occupational fatalities in “transportation incidents.”
Then there are on-the-job homicides. At 463 deaths (including 375 intentional shootings), homicides accounted for 11 percent of all occupational fatalities, just edged out by the 12 percent of fatalities caused by being “struck by an object or equipment.” There were 767 occupational deaths due to violence by people or animals, including 225 intentional self-inflicted injuries. The number of work-related suicides did drop by 10 percent, however, from 2011.
The best way to avoid occupational fatalities? Working for yourself could help: Fatal injuries among self-employed Americans made up just 23 percent of the total. Or you can work in the legal field, which counted only 8 deaths last year. You can also try being age 20-24, as fatal injuries in that group accounted for just 6 percent of all work-related deaths. But the surefire way to boost your odds of survival? Be a woman. Women accounted for only 8 percent of all occupational fatalities in 2012.