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April 1992, Vol. 115, No. 4
Martin E. Personick and Laura A. Harthun
"..tonics in New England,
soda water in Dixie,
soda pop in the Mid West,
and soft drinks in the Far West.
Call them what you will,
but drink your fill."
-Advertising slogan, 1929
B ritish scientist Joseph Priestley experimented two centuries ago with artificially carbonated water, unwittingly launching one of the Nation's most important food industries-soft drink manufacturing.1
Officially dubbed "bottled carbonated beverages" earlier this century, such effervescent drinks in the United States have taken on less formal, regional names. Whatever the name, soft drinks have become even more popular than milk or coffee. In 1989, Americans consumed, on average, 32 gallons of carbonated soft drinks per person-roughly the equivalent of 12 ounces each day of the year.2 This article focuses on the injuries and illnesses of workers who produce, stock, and deliver bottled and canned soft drinks and carbonated waters in the soft drink manufacturing industry.
Soft drink manufacturers continue to experience a high incidence of work place accidents and injuries. The industry's 1990 injury and illness rate of 21.5 per 100 full-time workers, for example, was well above the 13.2 rate in manufacturing as a whole and more then double the private industry rate, which was 8.8.3 In 1990, moreover, nearly three-fifths of the injury and illness cases in the soft drink industry were serious enough to require workers to take time off from their jobs or be assigned duties restricted to light work or a shortened schedule.4
This excerpt is from an article published in the April 1992 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 The manufacture of bottled and canned soft drinks and carbonated waters has been designated industry number 2086 in the 1987 edition of the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget. Excluded from this classification are establishments primarily producing fruit and vegetable juices, ciders, or flavoring extracts and syrups and those chiefly bottling natural spring waters.
For an account of the various products shipped by the soft drink industry, see 1987 Census of manufactures: Beverages, MC87-31-20H (Bureau of the Census, 1990).
2 Department of Agriculture figures how the following diverging trends in per capita consumption (In gallons) of popular beverages:
|1970 1980 1989|
|Carbonated soft drinks||20.8||27.1||32.0|
For technical details on how these data are developed, see Food Consumption, Prices, and Expenditures, 1989, Bulletin 825 (Economic Research Service, 1991). The author calculated per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks at slightly more than 11 ounces daily in 1989, using this method: multiply 32 gallons by 128 ounces per gallon, divide the product by 365 calendar days. It should be noted that the Agriculture department figures do not include noncarbonated soft drinks or bottled waters.
Consistent with higher per-capita consumption, consumers spent more of their food-at-home budget on soft drinks and related products in 1989 (7 percent) then they did in 1980 (5 percent), according to detailed data from BLS Consumer Expenditure Surveys.
3 Incidence rates reported in this article represent the
number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers and
were calculated as
N/EH x 200,000
N = number of injuries and or illnesses;
EH = total hours worked by al employees of the industry during the calendar year; and
200,000 = base for 100 full-time equivalent workers (employees working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year).
A variety of useful incidence rates may be computed by making N equal to the number of lost workday cases, or lost workdays, for example. In each instance, the result is an estimate of the number of cases or lost workdays per 100 full-time workers.
4 For soft drink manufacturing, the injury and illness rate for lost workday cases (12.2) was 57 percent of the rate (21.5) for total cases. For all manufacturing, the corresponding calculation was 44 percent.
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