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Are You Recruiting for One of the Most Dangerous Jobs in America?

The recent death of New York City Police Officer Miosotis Familia, shot while on duty, serves as a grim reminder that certain jobs come with inherent risks.

Source: AzmanJaka / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Police officers undergo careful screening and evaluation, as well as training, in an effort to make sure they are able to handle all aspects of the job, including the threat of danger.

But what about other dangerous jobs? What processes are in place to help mitigate the risks?

Calculating Risk

Any job description that includes the possibility of losing one’s life qualifies as dangerous. Police officers and firefighters immediately come to most people’s minds, yet there are other less heroic jobs that are dangerous.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies dangerous jobs by analyzing fatal injury rates by occupation. Fatal injury rates depict the risk of incurring a fatal work injury for workers in a given worker group expressed as the proportion of fatal injuries per total hours worked annually per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. This allows risks to be compared among different worker groups. To produce a fatal injury rate for an occupation, the number of fatal work injuries in a given occupation is divided by the total hours worked in that occupation, among all workers in that occupation, and multiplied by 200,000,000 (the base for 100,000 equivalent full-time workers working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year).

It’s a bit complicated but it’s an effective method, because not all occupations have the same number of workers.

BLS does use the word “dangerous” at its website, but a BLS information specialist explains it prefers to focus on “fatal work injury” because “dangerous or hazardous does not have a uniform definition.” He also points out that an occupation must have at least 15 fatal injuries before it is included in the annual analysis, to ensure that calculations and comparisons are indicative of risk.

These are the 10 civilian jobs with the highest fatal work injury rates, as of 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available:

  1. Logging workers
  2. Fishers and related fishing workers
  3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
  4. Roofers
  5. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  6. Structural iron and steel workers
  7. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
  8. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
  9. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
  10. First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers

Logging workers, for example, have a 132.7 fatal work injury rate, as a result of 67 deaths.

By way of comparison, 42 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2015, when an estimated 900,000 police officers served. In 2015, 90 firefighters died while on the job, 47 of whom were volunteers; at the time there were more than 1.1 million firefighters.

Recruiting and Hiring

The jobs on the BLS list raise important questions for recruiters and hiring managers.

Are candidates carefully screened and evaluated, and informed about risks? Is adequate training provided?

If not, why not?

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.