The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said 5,703 fatal work injuries occurred in 2006, down slightly from 2005. The wide-ranging construction industry accounted for the largest numbers - 1,226 deaths or 22 percent of the total and 3 percent over the 2005 figures.
Fatalities among specialty trades contractors rose 6 percent to 721 in 2006, primarily due to increases in deaths among building finishing contractors and roofers. Construction laborers accounted for the highest number of these deaths. Fatalities among electricians, roofers, painters and drywall and ceiling tile installers all increased. Fatalities, however, among plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters dropped. Fatalities in building construction and in heavy and civil engineering work also decreased.
From the perspective of fatality rates, the category of “structural iron and steel workers,” came in as the country’s fourth most dangerous job, with a rate of 61 deaths per 100,000 workers. The most dangerous job, however, is a commercial fisherman, with a fatality rate of 141.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Also, keep in mind that work fatalities don’t happen so much on the job as on the road. Highway incidents rank as the most frequent type of work-related fatalities. One of out four fatal work injuries occurred last year while driving. That number, however, is the lowest tally since 1993.
Top 10 dangerous jobs
The occupations with the highest fatality rates in 2006.
Occupation and Deaths per 100,000 workers
Structural iron and steel workers: 61.0
Refuse collectors: 41.8
Farmers and ranchers: 37.1
Power linemen: 34.9
Agricultural workers: 21.7
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics