Price of Risk: How Well Do the 5 Most Dangerous Jobs Pay?



We all face some danger every day. The odds of all of us dying at some point are of course 1 to 1 (cryptic, right?), but some dangers are a bit more prevailing than others. For instance, the National Safety Council reports the odds of heart disease and cancer are 1 in 7, whereas the odds of being killed lightning are 1 in 136,011. Many of the other fatal dangers out there have odds somewhere in between.

  • Fatal motor vehicle incident: 1 in 112
  • Death from unintentional poisoning: 1 in 119
  • Fatal falls: 1 in 152
  • Death from exposure to fire, flames, or smoke: 1 in 1,418
  • Death choking on food: 1 in 3,649
  • Fatal exposure to excessive natural heat: 1 in 8,321
  • Killed by hornets, wasps, or bees: 1 in 75,852

These are examples of the types of potential hazards a person faces each day, however rare they may be. These statistics tell us it’s highly unlikely a swarm of wasps is going to attack us on our way to work, for instance. In 2012, the BLS estimates there were 3.2 per 100,000 fatal work injuries for all occupations. All together, this makes 4,628 fatal injuries that year and in a given year, there are anywhere between 4,500 and 6,500 fatal workplace injuries.

Some people work highly risky jobs where they face other forms of danger, in addition to these existing forms we all face. Do these jobs receive premium pay for this heightened level of danger? Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, we found five of the most dangerous jobs based on the fatality and injury rates across various occupations. Members of these occupations encounter much higher risk than the average when they go to work each day.