Workers’ compensation carriers set their premiums based on the risk of injury on a particular job. High risk means high premiums for employers, and workers are often left without ample benefits to assist in recovery if they are injured on the job.

A recent survey set out to uncover the five most dangerous occupations as measured by a fatality rate. Coming in first were professional fishermen with a fatal work injury rate of 117 per 100,000. Fisherman often risk drowning by falls overboard, injuries onboard and onshore and loss of vessel due to an accident or storm. Aircraft pilots and mechanics were cited as well with a rate of 53.4 per 100,000, principally from crashes and equipment failures.

The construction industry has always had its share of hazardous occupations, and neck and spine injuries are reportedly commonplace. Closely followed by construction workers in the number of fatalities were farmers and ranchers. Truck drivers experience the fifth-highest rate of on-the-job fatalities: 22.1 per 100,000. This category includes delivery drivers and sales delivery drivers.

When a work injury occurs, workers’ compensation insurance often covers medical expenses, lost wages, prescriptions and rehabilitation. A worker draws a percentage of his full pay while temporarily or permanently out of work due to the injury. In the case of a fatality, the insurance may also provide death benefits for survivors. Rates adjust according to the carrier’s costs; taxes and regulatory burdens imposed by the state will also play a role. If an insurance company disputes a claim, an attorney can step in to litigate on the worker’s behalf.

Source: Wall St. Cheat Sheet, “Price of Risk: How Well Do the 5 Most Dangerous Jobs Pay?“, Erika Rawes, June 28, 2014