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Image: Commercial fisherman
Paul Sakuma  /  AP file
Recently released Department of Labor data show that fishermen (and fisherwomen) and other workers in fishing-related professions were the most likely to die on the job in 2008.
updated 9/8/2009 7:27:41 AM ET 2009-09-08T11:27:41

More than 5,000 Americans died from being injured at work last year. Here's who they were.

You may have read news reports saying that America's Main Streeters want revenge on Wall Street for the financial meltdown and recession and mortgage foreclosures and lost life savings. That hardly makes fields like finance and insurance hazardous to be in, though. You're much, much likelier to get killed in other lines of work.

Recently released Department of Labor data show that fishermen (and fisherwomen) and other workers in fishing-related professions were the most likely to die on the job in 2008. Of 39,000 fishing workers in the nation, 50 were killed, a rate of 128.9 per 100,000 full-time workers. Rough seas, unpredictable deadly weather and isolation during emergencies all make the job more unsafe than any other. It's no wonder that the industry's perils have given rise to a popular documentary TV series, "Deadliest Catch," and a best-selling book and hit Hollywood film, "The Perfect Storm."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupation Injuries counted 5,071 fatal work injuries in 2008. That was 7.6 percent fewer than in 2007, and 13 percent less than in 2006, which marked a five-year high for workplace fatalities. That's the good news in the numbers.

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Logging workers and aircraft pilots have the second and third deadliest jobs. Eighty-two loggers died last year from work injuries, some of them caused by falling trees and malfunctioning cutting equipment. Ninety aircraft pilots died in crashes and other accidents.

Transportation incidents are the most common cause of fatalities, overall. This year, 40.5 percent of the worker deaths, 2,053 of them, were transportation-related. More than half were highway incidents, which have been the most common killer every year since the Labor Department started tracking workplace fatalities in 1992. Equipment- and objects-related injuries came in a distant second, accounting for 923 fatalities, or 18.2 percent.

While putting in 57 percent of the total hours worked by Americans, men made up 92.7 percent of the workplace fatalities. The relatively few women killed were more likely to die from on-the-job homicide, though: 26 percent of the female workplace deaths were murders, compared with only 9 percent of the male deaths.

"For several occupations with high fatality rates, including truck drivers and farmers, and several industries with high fatality rates, like construction and mining, men constitute a much larger part of the total employment," Stephen Pegula, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, explains. "In addition, women are often employed in occupations and industries, like trade and leisure/hospitality, where homicides are more prevalent."

The construction industry suffered the largest number of deaths. Its fatality rate per 100,000 full-time workers was only 9.6, less than a 10th of that of people in fishing, but that added up to 969 deaths in 2008, no less than 19.1 percent of all U.S. workplace fatalities.

What about those Wall Streeters? People in finance and insurance actually had the lowest fatality rate of any occupation — 0.3 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers, or just 24 people across the nation.

© 2012 Forbes.com


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