While many of us are sitting in our padded computer chairs, safe in the office environment - with the only health hazards facing us being spilled coffee or the occasional paper cut - there are a significant number of workers battling fatal injuries on the job every day. Recently, various TV networks have been showcasing some of these dangerous jobs. But the perils of hazardous job sites aren't restricted to police officers and animal trainers. In many cases, the most (seemingly) common jobs can create the highest fatality rates, and the careers listed below represent the most fatal of those from 2008. (Half of Americans lose their nest eggs when they switch careers. Learn why you should avoid this trap, in Transfer Retirement Savings When You Change Jobs.)
- Fishermen and other related fishing workers - Fatality rate: 128.9
In 2008, commercial fisherman topped the list of America's most dangerous jobs. A fisherman's workplace may include heavy machinery, inclement weather and slippery surfaces, depending on maritime conditions. The Discovery Channel's show that follows the perilous expeditions of commercial fisherman definitely lives up to its name: "Deadliest Catch".
- Logging workers - Fatality rate: 115.7
What is so dangerous about cutting down trees? Loggers are often responsible for clearing out dense areas of trees and transporting the remnants. Heavy winds, falling branches and hidden roots are just a few of the dangers these workers must be mindful of, in order to keep safe.
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers - Fatality rate: 72.4
Traveling by plane is far safer than traveling by car, but pilots and flight engineers landed third on our list of most dangerous job in America. Crashes may be rare, but other circumstances can arise while in flight. Test pilots and helicopter pilots may be exposed to more danger, due to experimental equipment and the nature of their trips.
- Structural iron and steel workers - Fatality rate: 46.4
Structural iron and steel workers placed seventh on our list of Highest Paying Blue-Collar Jobs, but the high compensation comes with high risks. These workers operate in intense conditions, often including extreme heights, high temperatures and bright light.
- Farmers and ranchers - Fatality rate: 39.5
Farmers and ranchers use a variety of large tools to grow crops and cultivate livestock. In fact, the largest source of on-the-job danger comes from the operation of heavy machinery. In 2008, there were 317 fatalities in this line of work.
- Refuse and recyclable material collectors - Fatality rate: 36.8
Duties in this line of work vary, depending on the type of trash is involved - residential or industrial. Handling heavy machinery and operating large vehicles pose occupational risks, and exposure to hazardous materials can cause respiratory illness.
- Roofers - Fatality rate: 34.4
If you are afraid of heights, is not the job for you. In addition to working atop homes and buildings, roofers typically work during the summer months when intense heat can prove hazardous. In 2008, 79 deaths were recorded in the roofing industry.
- Electrical power line installers and repairers - Fatality rate: 29.8
This powerful occupation came in as another one of our Highest Paying Blue-Collar Jobs, but it can also be quite hazardous. Workers install and repair power lines and poles. Daily risks may include electrocution and falling from cranes used to reach high-altitude power lines.
- Truck drivers and drivers (salespeople) - Fatality rate: 22.8
In 2008, this occupation had the largest number of fatalities. Truck drivers and salespeople are responsible for different deliverables, but they share the same highways. Over 900 people died on the job in accidents, many of which were due to fatigue, not collisions involving other drivers.
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs - Fatality rate: 19.3
Between 2007-2008, taxi drivers and chauffeurs took a turn for the worse, kicking police sheriffs and patrol officers out of the last spot on our list of most dangerous jobs. During the process of transporting clients from one place to the next, traffic and accidents can become deadly. Last year, 69 people lost their lives in this line of work.
Though many of these careers are high-paying and require significant education, the risks that come with them may not outweigh the perks for many. The data was compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figures represent fatalities recorded in 2008, calculated per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in the occupation. (Find out if spreading your wings to try a new career will make you soar or fall flat, in Financial Career Options For Professionals.)