Most Dangerous Industries

When exploring work-related injury and fatality trends, the question “What is the most dangerous industry?” often comes up. Because work-related “danger” is defined in several different ways, there is no one answer to this seemingly simple question.

In 2020, depending on the measure used, each of these four industries could be ranked as most dangerous:

  • Construction– experienced the most workplace deaths
  • Education and health services– experienced the most nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving days away from work
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting– experienced the highest death rate per 100,000 workers
  • Education and health services– experienced the highest injury and illness rate involving days away from work per 10,000 workers

The 2020 nonfatal injuries and illnesses cases involving days away from work rankings were dramatically impacted by COVID-19 Illness cases. Because of COVID-19 cases, the education and health services industry moved from experiencing the 7th highest injury and illness rate per 10,000 workers to the highest, overtaking transportation and warehousing for the top spot. Education and health services also moved from experiencing the 2nd most nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving days away from work to the top spot in 2020, overtaking the government industry. To explore COVID-19 workplace illness trends in more detail, visit the COVID-19 workplace page.

Please note: Caution should be used when interpreting the industry ranking for 2019. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not report fatality data at the private industry level for several major industry sectors in 2019 (Professional and business services, Information, and Manufacturing). BLS indicates these industries did not meet publishable standards for 2019. BLS suppresses industry estimates if they don’t meet certain criteria for both reliability and confidentiality.

Use the interactive chart to explore each of these measures and how the rankings have changed over time.

  • Chart
  • Data Table
How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables

Source: National Safety Council analysis of BLS data