A Top Ten Ranking No One Wants, But Iron Workers Hold

Safety is the most important aspect of any construction job. That’s because jobsite workers are exposed to more dangerous situations than most occupations due to the nature of the work. However, fatal occupational injuries still occur. One construction job was recently ranked in the top 25 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. by AdvisorSmith, which analyzed the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2018.

Structural iron and steel workers ranked sixth on the list with 15 total fatal occupational injuries in 2018. Its fatal injury rate was 29 per 100,000 workers. The most common events or exposures leading to injury were falls, slips and trips, which accounted for seven of the fatal injuries.

Other construction industry occupants that made the list include roofers (4), crane operators (13), construction helpers (14) and general construction workers (24).

The construction industry experienced 1,008 fatal occupational injuries in 2018. The leading cause was falls, slips and trips, which accounted for 338 of the incidents. The second leading cause was transportation incidents, which accounted for 250 fatalities.

Looking at commercial construction, the commercial and institutional building construction industry experienced 55 fatal occupation injuries in 2018. Transportation was the leading cause with 20 incidents, followed by slips, trips and falls at 17 incidents.

Specialty trade contractors, which include glazing contractors, experienced 609 fatal occupational injuries in 2018, of which the leading cause was falls, slips and trips at 229 incidents. That’s nearly unchanged from 2017, when 610 fatal occupational injuries occurred in the specialty trades sector.


Falls, slips and trips were at their highest level in the history of the census in 2017, accounting for 887 (17%) of worker deaths. That decreased in 2018. Fatal falls accounted for 791 of the 5,250 total fatal occupational injuries in 2018, or 15%. Transportation incidents remained the leading cause of fatal injuries, accounting for 2,080 worker deaths, or 39.6%. Fatal falls were the second leading cause of worker deaths in 2017, but the category fell to third in 2018. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals accounted for 828 fatal injuries, or 15.8%, making it the second leading cause of worker deaths in 2018.

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