Dangerous Dining: Health and Safety in the New York City Restaurant Industry

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Abstract

Objective:

We characterized the health and safety conditions of New York City restaurant workers, a population comprising largely of immigrants and people of color.

Methods:

We conducted an anonymous questionnaire survey of 502 New York City restaurant workers, addressing working conditions, benefits, demographic factors, psychosocial exposures, and medical symptoms and conditions.

Results:

Restaurant workers reported fast-paced, repetitive, and physically demanding jobs that sometimes involve chemical exposures. Despite their youth, they experience a high prevalence of musculoskeletal and traumatic injuries. Few receive job benefits despite significant symptoms. Job-related injuries are positively associated with practices that pose a danger to consumers.

Conclusions:

New York City restaurant workers have stressful jobs, experience significant injury, and illness but receive few job benefits. A healthier work organization and greater access to benefits for restaurant workers would improve their health and public health.

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