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04.07.10

The 20 Most Dangerous Jobs

The tragedy in West Virginia reminds us that some careers are deadlier than others. From pilots to oilmen, The Daily Beast pores over the data to determine the toughest jobs in America.

Monday's horrific accident in the mines of West Virginia serves a grim reminder that for many Americans, going to work involves a significant amount of personal risk. The bad news for workers, particularly the one-third who perform the kind of vital blue-collar jobs that dominate this list, is that 5,071 people died from job-related injuries in 2008, the last year statistics are available, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The good news: That figure is the lowest since 1992. The majority of fatal injuries are caused by highway accidents and transportation incidents, but the most statistically dangerous isolated occupations range from farmers to tugboat crew members.

Click Here To See the 20 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

To compile the list of the most dangerous jobs in America, we considered two categories: fatality rates and injury and illness rates as tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2008. Fatality rate represents the total fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers using data on total hours worked for each occupation. Injury and illness rate was based on incidents counted per 100,000 workers. The latter vastly undercounts the actual number of injuries and illnesses, since only a small fraction are reported, but the statistic is highly useful to compare jobs relative to each other. Median (in few cases average) salaries, according to BLS, are also provided for each occupation. Which job is the most deadly, and is the danger worth the pay? Click here.

Clark Merrefield and Lauren Streib reported and wrote these rankings.