Te restaurant industry is one o the largest and astest-growing industries in New York City, despite the current eco-nomic crisis. However, most workers in this industry work in restaurants that put them at high risk o injury and illness,and provide them with little or no benets to cope with these challenges. Tese conditions increase the likelihood o workers committing dangerous practices that place the health o the dining public at risk.
TWO ROADS TO PROFITABILITY
Our study reveals that there are two roads to protability in New York City’s restaurant industry – the“high road” and the “low road.” Restaurant employers who take the “high road” are the source o the best jobs in the industry – those that enable restaurant workers to support themselves and their amilies, remainhealthy, and advance in the industry. aking the “low road” to protability, on the other hand, createslow-wage jobs with long hours and ew benets. It ultimately harms workers, other restaurant employers,consumers, public health, and taxpayers.
1. OUR FINDINGS
Our study explored how occupational health exposures and job benets determine health status and health behaviors o restaurant workers.1) Stressul workplace conditions –demanding environments, exposure to toxic chemicals, and more - put workersat high risk o injury and illness. As a result, New York City restaurant workers reported that injuries and ill-nesses such as cuts, burns, chronic pain, and atigue occurred requently on the job.
82% o all workers surveyed reported being required to do a job that makes them eel they might be at
risk o injury.36% o all workers surveyed had been cut on the job.
27% o all workers surveyed had been burned on the job.
Almost two-thirds o all restaurant workers (63%) reported having stiness, pain, tightness, aching, or
soreness in their legs, knees, and eet. A strong correlation was ound between being orced to do ast, repetitive work and being burned at the
2) Workers with the most physically and mentally demanding jobs were least likely to have job benets such ashealth insurance and paid sick days.
Workers without job benefts were signifcantly more likely to have suered rom musculoskeletal symp-
toms and respiratory symptoms.
3) Work-related injuries and illnesses such as burns, cuts, or alls, in combination with little or no access to health bene-ts, increased the likelihood o workers committing actions that put the health o the general dining public at risk.
98% o all workers who sneezed or coughed into the ood did not have paid sick days, compared to 91%
o all workers surveyed did not have paid sick days.80% o all workers who sneezed and coughed into the ood had no access to health insurance, compared
to 62% o all workers surveyed who had no access to health insurance.In total, 65% o all workers who engaged in any dangerous consumer health practice had no access to ben-
efts, compared to 52% o the entire set o respondents who had no access to any benefts.