15 Industries With the Highest Rates of Workplace Injuries

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Construction Coverage.

One of the concepts that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront of the public imagination is the idea of an “essential worker.” The pandemic highlighted that many professions are critical for allowing the rest of the economy and society to function properly, especially in a time of crisis.

Some essential professionals like health workers and teachers were already held in high regard, but COVID-19 put a new spotlight on workers in oft-overlooked industries like grocery, elder care, and shipping and logistics.

Of course, the reason why these professions have drawn attention is the fact that workers in these fields kept working despite higher risks of virus exposure in the course of doing their jobs. Early on in the pandemic, many people were easily able to transition to working remotely, while many others saw their jobs eliminated or hours reduced as a result of COVID-19’s economic shocks. But essential workers mostly continued working in-person, all the while confronting the greater possibility of contracting COVID-19.

These varying experiences of COVID-19 across professions reflect the larger fact that every job has different levels and types of risk inherent in the work. Professions that involve manual labor or interacting with tools and machinery tend to be among the most prone to injury and illness, but no job is perfectly safe. Fortunately, however, the U.S. has seen positive trends in reducing the number and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses in recent years.

To identify the industries with the highest rates of workplace injuries, researchers at Construction Coverage collected data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including each industry’s total number of cases per 100 workers, cases resulting in missed days or job transfer/restrictions, median wage, and total employment. Industries were ranked by the total number of cases per 100 workers.

Here are the industries with the highest rates of workplace injuries.

15. Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing

Manufacturing workers
Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 4.3
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.3
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.6
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.4
  • Median annual wage: $38,680
  • Total employment: 282,110

14. Primary Metal Manufacturing

Manufacturing worker
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 4.4
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.2
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.5
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.7
  • Median annual wage: $44,520
  • Total employment: 385,910

13. Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping

Vintagepix / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 4.6
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 2.3
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): N/A
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.5
  • Median annual wage: N/A
  • Total employment: N/A

12. General Merchandise Stores

negotiating price
ALPA PROD / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 4.6
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.2
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.6
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.8
  • Median annual wage: $25,310
  • Total employment: 3,129,540

11. Warehousing and Storage

Worker In Warehouse
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 4.8
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.9
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.7
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.2
  • Median annual wage: $36,170
  • Total employment: 1,214,230

10. Building Material and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers

Warehouse workers talk at a desk
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 4.9
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.6
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.7
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.6
  • Median annual wage: $29,830
  • Total employment: 1,311,670

9. Support Activities for Agriculture and Forestry

Kansas man with longhorn steer, agriculture
mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 5.2
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.8
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.5
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.9
  • Median annual wage: $26,430
  • Total employment: 382,330

8. Crop Production

Senior in a rural location
Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 5.3
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.4
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.6
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 2.2
  • Median annual wage: N/A
  • Total employment: N/A

7. Hospitals

Hospital staff
Spotmatik Ltd / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 5.5
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.3
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 0.9
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 3.3
  • Median annual wage: $58,210
  • Total employment: 6,094,940

6. Animal Production and Aquaculture

Olexandr Panchenko / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 5.6
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 2.1
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.3
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 2.1
  • Median annual wage: N/A
  • Total employment: N/A

5. Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

Nursing Home
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 5.9
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.7
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.8
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 2.4
  • Median annual wage: $30,370
  • Total employment: 3,351,090

4. Performing Arts, Spectator Sports, and Related Industries

Natursports / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 6.0
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.4
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.9
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 2.7
  • Median annual wage: $37,330
  • Total employment: 519,810

3. Wood Product Manufacturing

Moving lumber
tvist / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 6.1
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 1.8
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.7
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 2.6
  • Median annual wage: $34,260
  • Total employment: 406,100

2. Air Transportation

Worker near airplane
Corepics VOF / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 6.5
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 3.7
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 1.5
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 1.2
  • Median annual wage: $62,480
  • Total employment: 498,830

1. Couriers and Messengers

eddtoro / Shutterstock.com
  • Total cases (per 100 workers): 8.1
  • Cases with days away from work (per 100 workers): 3.3
  • Cases with days of job transfer/restriction (per 100 workers): 2.8
  • Other cases (per 100 workers): 2.1
  • Median annual wage: $36,890
  • Total employment: 796,660

Detailed Findings & Methodology

A man studies financial data at his computer
NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

To find the industries with the highest rates of workplace injuries, researchers analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Incidence rates represent the number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers. The analysis is of private industry subsectors only (three-digit NAICS code industry levels). Only industries with sufficient data were included in the analysis. Wage and employment data came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Survey.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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