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Ellen Meiser

Research Findings

Dangerous workplaces and the counterintuitive value of scars

November 9, 2023

Think of a dangerous job. One where workers experience daily risk and suffering. Where the accidental burn, cut, and blood is to be expected— maybe even mundane. Perhaps what comes to mind is a firefighter barreling into a fiery building, a meat packing plant worker who trims sides of beef, or a police officer in a foot chase with an armed suspect.

What likely did not come to mind are the folks who whipped up the plate of palak paneer you dined on last Saturday or baked the croissant you nibbled this morning: chefs, cooks, and other restaurant kitchen workers. But, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that workers at dining establishments—about 2.3 million people in the United States— experience comparatively more pain and injury than those of other professions, including the stereotypically dangerous ones I mentioned earlier (see table below).

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