Josh Edelson / Reuters

Some states see a much higher incidence of non-fatal injuries. Here's why.

On Monday, a major fire at one of the country's biggest oil refineries sent three employees to the hospital. It was a tragic turn of events, but it turns out America's most dangerous jobs aren't at refineries. They're in hospitals.

The United States' Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down the number of injuries and illnesses by industry, with some surprising results [PDF]. Nursing and residential care facilities rank in the top ten most dangerous (14.7 injuries per 100 full-time workers for state industries and 10.9 for local industries). In comparison, petroleum refinery incidences barely register (at 0.7 cases per 100 full-time workers), according to another table [PDF].

There are also significant disparities in the geography of injury and illness. The 2010 numbers for nonfatal injury and illness for private industry show that Maine has the highest recorded incidence rate, 5.6 injuries per 100 full-time workers). Washington, D.C., has the lowest incidence rate of 1.9 [PDF].

Map courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Workplace Injuries and Illnesses — 2010 report [PDF]

Of these incidences, almost 95 percent are injuries. Nearly 76 percent were in service-producing industries (however, most of the workforce is in service jobs), and the remaining quarter was in the goods-producing sector (17.6 percent of jobs).

Below, a table of the highest incidence rates of total nonfatal occupational injury cases for 2010:

Industry 2009 Rate 2010 Rate
Nursing and residential care facilities (State government) - 14.7
Travel trailer and camper manufacturing (Private industry) 10.0 12.9
Fire protection (Local government) 11.6 12.5
Skiing facilities (Private industry) 10.3 11.6
Iron foundries (Private industry) 10.0 11.0
Nursing and residential care facilities (Local government) 10.7 10.9
Hospitals (State government) 10.4 10.4
Police protection (Local government) 11.7 10.4
Aluminum die-casting foundries (Private industry) 6.6 10.1
Ambulance services (Private industry) 8.8 9.8
Steel foundries (except investment) (Private industry) 7.0 9.7
Other concrete product manufacturing (Private industry) 5.4 9.4
Veterinary services (Private industry) 9.4 9.1
Sugar manufacturing (Private industry) 6.9 8.9
Heavy and civil engineering construction (Local government) 12.5 8.6
Elevator and moving stairway manufacturing (Private industry) 6.7 8.6
Soft drink manufacturing (Private industry) 9.0 8.4

Table data courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Industry Injury and Illness Data, Table SNR06 [PDF]

The BLS data on fatal work-related injury rates tell a similar story. Fishers and related fishing workers, logging workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, and farmers and ranchers all had high death rates in 2010. The petroleum refinery industry recorded seven fatalities that year, versus 36 for fishing and 70 for logging [PDF].

Top image: Josh Edelson / Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    Britain's Next Megaproject: A Coast-to-Coast Forest

    The plan is for 50 million new trees to repopulate one of the least wooded parts of the country—and offer a natural escape from several cities in the north.

  2. The White House is seen reflected during a rainy day in Washington, D.C.
    POV

    The City That 'This Town' Forgot

    Washington, D.C., is home to a huge concentration of reporters. Why do they miss the stories happening in their own city?

  3. A small accessory dwelling unit—known as an ADU—is attached to an older single-family home in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood.
    Design

    The Granny Flats Are Coming

    A new book argues that the U.S. is about to see more accessory dwelling units and guides homeowners on how to design and build them.

  4. Transportation

    To Measure the 'Uber Effect,' Cities Get Creative

    Ride-hailing companies are cagey on all-important trip data. So researchers are finding clever workarounds.

  5. Design

    Black Urban Design in a 'Changing America'

    "The city is the black man's land," reads one capsule in an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Its curator explains why design is a critical part of the post-1968 urban and suburban landscape—and the museum itself.