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June 1991, Vol. 114, No. 6
Martin E. Personick
"The cook was a good cook, as cooks go;
and as cooks go she went."
-Hector Hugh Munro ("Saki")
I n 1770, the first public restaurant opened in Paris. Today, nearly 400,000 eating and drinking places are reported in the United States alone. They employ some 6 million workers who prepare and serve an impressive array of meals, snacks, and other refreshments. Although the fare varies from fast food to haute cuisine, the industry's workers often encounter similar job hazards and sustain common injuries, including scalding burns and serious cuts while preparing meals, as well as disabling sprains and strains in the course of serving food and drink.
This article examines characteristics of the eating and drinking places industry and analyzes its injury and illness record in detail.1 It covers the restaurant industry as part of a Bureau of Labor Statistics series focusing on "high-impact" industries, defined as those with the largest numbers of occupational injuries and illnesses, although not necessarily the highest incidence rates.2 According to a 1989 BLS survey, eating and drinking places ranked first in total recordable injuries and illnesses, with 355,000 cases. Only 10 industries, the survey shows, reported at least 100,000 cases that year. (See table 1.) These industries, however, accounted for nearly three-tenths of the 6.6 million cases reported nationwide in 1989. Clearly, if industries with high case counts become safer, more healthful workplaces, then the national figures will reflect these improvements in addition to those stemming from safer working conditions in "high-rate" industries.
This excerpt is from an article published in the June 1991 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Eating and drinking places has been designated industry group 581 in the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, 1987 edition, prepared by the office of Management and Budget. The industry includes retail establishments selling prepared foods and drinks for consumption on the premises: lunch counters and refreshment stands selling prepared foods and drink for immediate consumption; and caterers and industrial and institutional food service establishments. Eating facilities in department stores and hotels are excluded, unless leased to outside operators.
Throughout this article, the terms "eating and drinking places" and "restaurant" are used interchangeably to denote the industry as a whole.
2 For an account of industries with high rates of workplace injuries and illnesses, see Martin E. Personick an Katherine Taylor-Shirley, "Profiles in safety and health: occupational hazards of meatpacking," Monthly Labor Review, January 1989, pp. 3-9.
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