Nursing most dangerous job in America? It ain’t what you’d expect?


There’s a headline that might surprise: Working in state-run and residential care facilities were riskier than being a police officer or a firefighter in 2016.

Since 2012, nurses and health aides in state-run residential care and nursing settings have accounted for the highest rates of injury and illnesses tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry reported 164,300 employee injuries and illnesses in 2016 and racked up an incident rate that was roughly 30 percent higher than what was recorded by emergency workers in the nation’s police and fire departments.

once considered the most dangerous in the country still pose deadly risks to workers – landscaping, roofing and highway construction reported more worker deaths than any other industry over the past 21 months, according to federal data. However, the documented dangers posed by nursing and other service-related fields highlight ongoing shifts in how Americans earn a living, and experts say will continue as more and more traditional blue-collar jobs are automated or made obsolete altogether.

Deborah Berkowitz, program director of worker safety and health at the National Employment Law Project, said the high injury and illness rates in nursing are indicative of the physicality and strains of the job. She said back injuries in particular are a problem.

“Not only are they lifting patients out of the bed, but they’re repositioning them, they’re trying to prevent patients from falling,” said Berkowitz, whose nonprofit advocates for low-wage workers. She previously served as chief of staff for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration from 2009 to 2015.