Research Paper: Occupational Health and Safety

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[. . .] In the catering industry, those high-risk situations are readily apparent from historical data and from any time-series data obtained by taking "snapshots" of the industry over time.

In 2001, the OSHC conducted a survey regarding the conditions of kitchen workers in Chinese restaurants (Kuen, 2005). A total of 471 kitchen workers, including chefs, cooks, assistant cooks, grill cooks, dim sum cooks, and material preparation cooks, from 159 different Chinese restaurants participated in the survey (Kuen, 2005). Of the kitchen workers surveyed, 80% were injured on the job and more than 60% took sick leave due to accidents at work (Kuen, 2005). The work-related injuries included cuts, burns, musculoskeletal problems, and stab wound from shrimp or fish (Kuen, 2005). Health problems of kitchen workers were predominantly gastrointestinal disorders and headaches (Kuen, 2005).

The Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC) conducted a similar survey, also in 2001, with a total of 388 participants who were exclusively floor staff -- those not working directly in the kitchen areas -- in 69 Chinese restaurants (Kuen, 2005). The floor staff included receptionists, waiters and waitresses, head waiters and head waitresses, food servers, dim-sum servers, stewards, managers, supervisors, and even a few workers performing menial services such as clearing tables (Kuen, 2005). OSHC was particularly interested in how the hectic environments of the Chinese restaurants might be impacting the stress levels of the floor workers (Kuen, 2005). So, in addition to physical problems caused by work-related injuries, OSHC was inquiring about mental health problems or sufficiently high stress levels that could leave floor staff vulnerable to workplace injury (Kuen, 2005).

Occupational health and safety data in the United States. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 445 represents Food and Beverage Stores of the Retail Trade Sector (44-45). The following definition applies:

"Industries in the Food and Beverage Stores subsector usually retail food and beverage merchandise from fixed point-of-sale locations. Establishments in this subsector have special equipment (e.g., freezers, refrigerated display cases, refrigerators) for displaying food and beverage goods. They have staff trained in the processing of food products to guarantee the proper storage and sanitary conditions required by regulatory authority." (NAICS, 2012).

In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics annually compiles, analyzes and reports the number and frequency of work-related fatal injuries and nonfatal injuries and illnesses ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). The Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides detailed data about the characteristics of injured or killed workers and about the circumstances surrounding workplace injuries and illnesses ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) provide the data for the reports generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). The Bureau administers the CFOI, and in conjunction with the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and New York City, compiles data on all work-related fatal injuries occurring in the United States ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). The CFOI uses diverse sources to identify, verify, and profile fatal work injuries in order to create complete and detailed data sets. Source documents come from many source and are cross-referenced to gather key information about each workplace fatality ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). Data sourced include Federal and State agency administrative records, workers' compensation reports, death certificates, and news accounts ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012),

The 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor shows nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses of food and beverage stores, as follows: (a) Number of people employed = $2,859.7 (in thousands); (b) 4.7 incidents per 100 full-time workers; and, (c) 2.7 cases per 100 lost work time, were put on restricted work time, or were transferred to other jobs due to the nature of their injuries ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). The significance of data reports such as those from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its international corollary is that the food and beverage industry growth rate is expected to continue in its current upward trend ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). This, of course, means that a corresponding increase in employment of food and beverage workers will be seen as well. In Hong Kong, much of the growth will be seen in the catering businesses many of which are associated with retail restaurants and other food establishments. The economic environment suggests that continued growth in the food and beverage industry, which includes catering businesses, will continue to be a focus of attention for those industries and governmental agencies with responsibly for the health and safety of the women and men who make their living in the industry (Martinez, 2011). In 2008 alone, an approximate total of 6,299,930 food and beverage serving workers (servers) were employed in the United States; should the current growth rate continue, this number will increase by roughly 10% by the year 2018 (Martinez, 2011). A variety of positions are subsumed within the category of food and beverage servers. For the food an beverage industry in the United States during the year 2008, the breakdown by job position was approximately as follows: 2,371, 750 waiters and waitresses, 2,708,840 combined serving and food preparation workers, 527,530 counter attendants, 503,420 bartenders, and 188,390 non-restaurant food servers (Martinez, 2011).

Jobs of all types in the food and beverage industry, perhaps with the exception of managerial and administrative positions, attract young workers, many of whom are still teenagers or in their twenties, who have no previous work experience and no actual job experience in the industry (Martinez, 2011). The nature of food and beverage industry jobs across the globe exposes workers to substantive hazards that are not shared by other categories of workers. Only very recently has national data on nonfatal injuries and illnesses been calculated on the basis of the total number of hour worked rather than just on the number of days worked ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012). A more accurate representation of the inherent job-related risk is provided when the number of hours is considered in the analysis ("Bureau of Labor Statistics," 2012).

Food and beverage industry employees often work long shifts, typically spanning lunch and dinner service, and are frequently on their feet (Martinez, 2011). These two variables alone can contribute to fatigue and a corresponding mental impairment and physical slowness that set the workers up to have accidents (Martinez, 2011). Add to that a mix of duties that include carrying heavy trays and containers of hot food, breakable dishes and glassware, sharp utensils, and slippery floor surfaces (Martinez, 2011). Given this volatile mix, it is not surprising that over the six years from 2003 to 2008, the number of fatalities for food and beverage workers reached 141 (Martinez, 2011). In addition, in 2008 alone, there were 26,870 nonfatal injuries and illnesses -- all of which caused days lost from work -- to employees who worked as food and beverage servers in the private sector (Martinez, 2011). This number was down 29% from the 37,860 nonfatal injuries to food and beverage servers that were reported in 2003 (Martinez, 2011). In order to gain perspective, it is useful to know that for all other occupations combined in 2008, there were 1,078,140 nonfatal injuries and illnesses -- a figure that has decreased 18% from the 1,315,920 incidences that were recorded in 2003 (Martinez, 2011). The correspondence is particularly noteworthy for nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses that required time off from work for food and beverage servers. In 2008, roughly 70.6 such cases occurred for every 10,000 fulltime food and beverage workers, while the corresponding figure was 113.3 for full-time workers from all other occupations combined (Martinez, 2011).

When examining the figures related to workplace injuries, it is important to distinguish between injuries that result from accidents and injuries that result from workplace violence (Martinez, 2011). Importantly, most fatal injuries to food and beverage workers are the result of homicides that are associated with the occurrence of crimes, intention to commit crimes, and interpersonal disputes that occur in the workplace (Martinez, 2011). In comparison, most nonfatal injuries and illnesses in food and beverage workers are the result of some accident that took place during their regular performance of their job duties (Martinez, 2011). Accidental events typically associated with nonfatal injuries and illnesses in food and beverage workers include contact with dangerous equipment or substances, slipping or falling, and overexertion resulting in strains or collapse (Martinez, 2011).

There is considerable merit in disaggregation analysis that enables researchers to examine relationships between various aspects of injuries, such as the parts of the body injured, the source or sources of the injury, the nature of the accidental event or exposure (Martinez, 2011). In the case of injuries to food and beverage workers, this is a particularly important measure since raw numbers do not provide a complete picture of how accidents and injuries happen. Research has shown that the interactions among the variables are often important and that food and beverage workers… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Occupational Health and Safety.  (2012, November 28).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Occupational Health and Safety."  28 November 2012.  Web.  19 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Occupational Health and Safety."  November 28, 2012.  Accessed June 19, 2019.