US Cities With the Most Dangerous Workplaces

Updated: June 23, 2024

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Even with significant improvements to workplace safety over the past several decades that have decreased worker deaths from an average of 38 per day in 1970 to 15 per day in 2022, recent trends have shown a rise in workplace fatalities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics documented a 6% increase in fatal work injuries, jumping from 5,190 in 2021 to 5,486 in 2022.

To identify the cities with the highest rates of work-related deaths per 100,000 workers from 2019 to 2023, MoneyGeek analyzed close to 1,300 work-related fatalities reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We found that cities in the Southern region of the United States, especially Texas, have the highest rates.

KEY FINDINGS: INSIGHTS FROM 2019 TO 2023
  • Texas cities had some of the highest worker fatality rates, with Midland, Tyler, Odessa, Waco, Laredo and Pasadena in the top 15. Midland was No. 1, with 16 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

  • Orlando (Florida), Miami and New Orleans were the largest cities in the top 15 for worker fatalities. Each city recorded over nine fatalities per 100,000 workers.

  • The Texas cities of Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio had the highest worker fatality rates among the 10 most populous cities, at least two per 100,000 workers.

  • Phoenix and Los Angeles reported the lowest rates of worker fatalities, each below the national average of 3.7 for cities with over 50,000 workers.

  • Some of the leading causes of workplace fatalities included falling from high places, being struck or crushed by a vehicle or falling tree and electrocution.

Southern US Has the Most Dangerous Workplaces

Among the 253 cities with workforce populations over 50,000, the South is the most dangerous region for workers. It is home to 12 of the top 15 cities with the highest rates of work-related fatalities per 100,000 workers.

Six Texas cities rank among the top 15 for workplace fatalities — Midland, Tyler, Odessa, Waco, Laredo and Pasadena each reported over 8.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, significantly higher than the national average of 3.7. Midland had the highest fatality rate in the study, 16 per 100,000 workers.

Although most cities in the top 15 have smaller populations, three larger cities with over 150,000 workers — Orlando, Florida; Miami and New Orleans — also appear on the list. These cities each reported over nine fatalities per 100,000 workers from 2019 to 2023. Orlando, Florida, had the highest rate among the three, ranking fifth overall in the study with a fatality rate of 12.4 per 100,000 workers.

15 Most Dangerous Cities for Workers in the US
City
Fatalities per 100,000 Workers

1.

Midland, TX

16.3

2.

Tyler, TX

15.7

3.

Greeley, CO

15.4

4.

Odessa, TX

12.9

5.

Orlando, FL

12.4

Leading Industries Behind Workplace Fatalities in the 15 Most Dangerous Cities

From 2019 to 2023, the construction industry accounted for 42% of all fatalities in these 15 cities, with the highest concentration of workplace deaths. Twenty-eight percent of fatalities stemmed from either manufacturing, administrative support and waste services or from transportation and warehousing industries.

The construction industry also led in the number of fatalities among four of the six Texas cities in the top 15. Midland and Odessa were the exceptions, where the mining sector led in workplace deaths, contributing to 73% and 43% of fatalities, respectively.

In the nine cities outside Texas among the top 15, only North Charleston, South Carolina and Salem, Oregon, did not have construction as the deadliest industry. North Charleston saw 57% of fatalities in the manufacturing sectors, while fatalities in Salem were equally common in administrative and support and waste services, agriculture and transportation.

Workplace Fatalities in the 10 Largest US Cities

Among the 10 most populous U.S. cities, four Texas cities reported the highest worker fatality rates between 2019 and 2023. Houston topped the list with 7.3 deaths per 100,000 workers, nearly tripling the average rate of 2.6 across these major cities. Following Houston, Austin, Texas, Dallas and San Antonio each recorded rates above 2.3 per 100,000 workers.

In contrast, Phoenix and Los Angeles had the lowest fatality rates among large cities, at 1.4 or below per 100,000 workers during the same period. The average fatality rate in the South almost tripled this rate.

Workplace Fatalities in the 10 Largest US Cities
City
Fatalities per 100,000 Workers

1.

Houston, TX

7.3

2.

Austin, TX

4.2

3.

Dallas, TX

3.2

4.

San Antonio, TX

2.3

5.

Chicago, IL

2.2

6.

Philadelphia, PA

1.8

7.

San Diego, CA

1.7

8.

New York, NY

1.4

9.

Phoenix, AZ

1.4

10.

Los Angeles, CA

1.0

Leading Causes of Workplace Fatalities


falling icon
5 Most Common Causes of Death
1. Falling
2. Being hit/struck
3. Being crushed
4. Electrocution
5. Injury
pickupTruck icon
5 Most Common Cause of Death Objects
1. Truck
2. Other vehicle
3. Roof
4. Ladder
5. Tree

Using the hazard descriptions from 4,391 fatalities between 2019 and 2023, we also analyzed the causes of death linked to the reported workplace fatalities. One of the most common was being struck or crushed — either by a truck, other vehicle or falling tree. Electrocution also accounted for a significant number of deaths.

However, “fall” was the most frequently used term in the hazard descriptions, appearing in 35% of all fatalities. Many of these incidents involved workers falling from high places like ladders or roofs, a prevalent cause of death in the construction industry.

Worker Safety and Protection in High-Risk Environments

Mitigating death and injury in the workplace should be a critical priority for both employers and employees. OSHA recommends implementing comprehensive safety protocols, providing regular training and ensuring that all equipment is well-maintained and up to date. Employers should conduct regular safety audits and encourage a culture where workers report potential hazards. Additionally, using personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to industry safety standards can significantly reduce the risk of fatal accidents.

For their part, workers should also consider the financial implications of working in a high-risk environment. We recommend life insurance as a safety net for your family’s financial future, especially if your city and industry are among those with high work-related fatalities. Research the best life insurance options to find one that suits your needs. Unlike what most people believe, life insurance doesn't have to be expensive — there will always be affordable life insurance options that provide significant coverage and fit within your budget.

Methodology

To identify the cities with the highest worker fatality rates per 100,000 workers between 2019 and 2023, MoneyGeek analyzed workplace fatalities in cities with more than 50,000 workers. This method garnered 1,298 fatalities for analysis at the city level. We used OSHA data and divided each city's total fatalities by its employed civilian population aged 16 and over, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year 2022 American Community Survey.

To identify the primary causes of workplace fatalities, the analysis included 4,391 OSHA-reported fatalities from 2019 to 2023, with no population restrictions, focusing on the most common action words and objects mentioned in each incident's hazard description.

Full Dataset

Our data illustrates the most dangerous cities for workplace-related deaths across various industries, identifying the cities with the highest work-related fatalities per capita. See the data that shaped our story below.

City
Workplace Fatalities per 100,000 Workers
Workforce Population (Age 16 and Older)

Midland, TX

16.3

67,618

Tyler, TX

15.7

50,808

Greeley, CO

15.4

52,028

Odessa, TX

12.9

54,268

Orlando, FL

12.4

168,816

North Charleston, SC

12.2

57,564

Salem, OR

11.2

80,168

Miami, FL

11.0

235,810

About Andre Pardillo


Andre Pardillo headshot

Andre Pardillo is a data journalist with several years of experience in the investment industry. He has worked as a financial and advisory data analyst for companies including Nasdaq and CTS Global, and has contributed to various data journalism projects, covering topics such as personal finance, mental health and human rights violations.

Pardillo holds a bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in economics from the Ateneo de Manila University.


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