You might feel like you want to die when your boss schedules yet another 4:45 meeting that you know is going to run long, but chances are that you won’t actually die. Most people enjoy relatively safe jobs with very little chance of injury. But there are tasks that need to get done, even if it means putting an employee in danger. Below, find a ranking of these professions; they are ranked on a scale of fatal accidents per 100,000 workers.

Refuse and recyclable material collecting

Green refuse truck lifts a blue recycling bin for trash collection in a residential neighborhood
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As if having to smell everyone’s trash isn’t bad enough, refuse and recyclable material collectors have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. In fact, it’s even more dangerous than being a police officer, construction worker, or miner. There are 33 deaths per 100,000 workers every year.

Trash and recycling collectors spend most of their day working with heavy machinery and driving around on the roads. Many collectors in major cities hang off the backs of the garbage trucks without harnesses or even seats. Most injuries happen when a collector is struck by another vehicle as the driver impatiently passes the slow-moving truck.


Roofer replacing black shingles while standing on a deeply slanted rooftop
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Roofers spend their days performing intense physical labor in the hot sun for long periods at a time. Scattered around their feet are dozens of tools and pieces of equipment that create tripping hazards. Plus, it’s more than likely that they’re on the roof because it was unsafe to begin with and needs to be fixed. It all adds up to one dangerous job.

It’s no surprise that the most common injury in the roofing industry comes from falling. Even the most experienced roofers have had death-defying experiences. If you do end up falling, there’s a 34% chance of death. Every year there are 46 deaths for every 100,000 workers. Annually, more than 100 roofers die in the United States alone, making it the fourth most dangerous job there is.

Pilots and flight engineers

View of Toronto, Canada from helicopter pilots view
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Defying gravity comes with its fair share of danger. It’s no surprise that the most common cause of death for a pilot or flight engineer is a plane crash. Most plane crashes are caused by human error from poor training or visibility. There are 53.4 fatalities per 100,000 pilots every year.

Before you go and cancel that holiday flight to your relative’s house, most of these crashes are by smaller aircraft flying through tricky terrain. Twenty percent of plane crashes in the United States happen in Alaska where older, single-engine planes have to land on rough runways and avoid snow, ice, and mountains. Major commercial airlines are very unlikely to crash.

Commercial fishing

Commercial fishing boat on the ocean with mountains in the background
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As the TV show “Deadliest Catch” has proven to us, commercial fishing is far from a relaxing summer day out on the lake. Working with heavy machinery in cold waters and sometimes inclement weather can prove to be a fatal combination. For every 100,000 workers, there are 86 deaths annually.

Most of the injuries and deaths for commercial fishers are attributed to being swept overboard while not wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device. People can be sent overboard for a variety of reasons: inclement weather, machinery failure, or simply not paying attention to safety procedures.


Commercial logging camp with huge stacks of logs and transportation trucks
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With a whopping 135.9 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers, logging easily takes the top spot on the most dangerous jobs list.

Loggers work with dangerous, sharp machinery and spend most of the day in remote wilderness locations. Heavy logs and branches are constantly falling all around them, and it’s not uncommon for people to be hit if they aren’t paying attention. If someone does get injured, not only is it very difficult to get them out of the field, but the nearest hospital is likely miles away.

Cover image credit: taylanibrahim/ iStock