Being a logger is the most dangerous job in America, according to new government data released this week, with an industry expert telling FOX Business that the risk is linked to tough working conditions, rugged terrain and the "potential for blunt force trauma accidents."
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national census of fatal occupation injuries revealed that the logging industry has a fatal work injury rate of 82 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2021. That industry was followed by fishing and hunting workers with 75 and roofers with 59.
"There is no denying that logging is inherently dangerous and difficult. This can be attributed to the working environment, such as winter snow conditions and rugged terrain," Scott Dane, the executive director of the American Loggers Council, a national advocacy group, told FOX Business. "Additionally, the forces represented by felling and handling timber exposes loggers to the potential for blunt force trauma accidents."
Dane said some in the industry "take this ‘most dangerous job' label as a badge of honor, somehow reflecting how brave they are," but "today's loggers are professionals that take pride in the work they do [and] their focus on safety."
He added that logging has "evolved from on the ground hand felling, limbing and bucking to safer mechanized operations in much of the country," which helps remove loggers "from the hazardous exposure of falling trees and eliminates the need to use chainsaws in many instances."
The census also revealed that a worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury last year.
"Workers in transportation and material moving occupations experienced a series high of 1,523 fatal work injuries in 2021 and represent the occupational group with the highest number of fatalities," the Bureau said. "This is an increase of 18.8% from 2020."
"Transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event in 2021 with 1,982 fatal injuries, an increase of 11.5% from 2020," the Bureau also said. "This major category accounted for 38.2% of all work- related fatalities for 2021."
Tom Shanahan, vice president of Enterprise Risk Management and Executive Education at the National Roofing Contractors Association, told FOX Business that "the inherent danger of falls is ever present" among those who work in that industry.
"Different kinds of roofs – especially the flatter they are, in residential settings – can give a person of sense of ‘well this is no big deal,’" he said Wednesday. "And that is where we see many, many – it could be argued most of the fatalities occur, residential contractors or workers who aren’t preparing properly ahead of time for their work in terms of fall protection."
"We know from research that that if you prepare for fall protection, not only training, but assess the job before you are up there and think about how you are going to protect and be safe, that that goes tremendously a long way to fall prevention," he added.