Who are putting their lives on the line for us?

A new report(pdf) from the U S Bureau of Labor Statistics provides 2009 data, pretty much consistent with earlier years, about fatality rates (per 100,000 equivalent full-time workers) in various occupations:

  • Fishers and related fishing workers 200.0
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers  57.1
  • Farmers and ranchers 38.5
  • Roofers 34.7
  • Refuse and recyclable material collectors  25.2
  • Driver/sales workers and truck drivers  18.3
  • Miscellaneous agricultural workers 16.7
  • First-line supervisors/managers of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers 16.2
  • First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers 15.2
  • Grounds maintenance workers 15.0
  • Taxi drivers and chauffeurs  14.9
  • Police & sheriff’s patrol officers 13.1
  • All self-employed workers (included in the various occupational categories) 12.0
  • Firefighters 4.4

When I think about what occupations are really important to the maintenance of civilized life in my community, I definitely think of the farmers and the refuse collectors. And in an emergency, sometimes I have had to call on a taxi driver.  Some of the other categories maybe are less essential. I like fish, but not enough to risk death.

Of course police and firefighters face dangerous situations, but they are trained, equipped, and staffed to deal with them.  Maybe we need to give equal attention to some other essential occupations.