Now that the DC smoking ban has gone into full effect, my hobby has turned from fighting it to just antagonizing the people who support it. My favorite way of doing this is getting them to admit that they don’t really care much about worker safety, their favorite rationalization for presuming to tell everybody else what to do. Nobody I speak with actually knows anything about the subject, so it’s not very hard to reach this point. Asking if there is any worker safety issue about which they are at all informed that doesn’t also happen to make their weekends out more pleasant usually does the trick.
If I’m going to be asking such questions, though, I figured I at least ought to know a few things about workplace dangers, so I killed some time last night doing a bit of research. In the process I stumbled upon a class of service industry workers in even greater need of protection than waiters and bartenders. I also got a new question to pose to anti-smoking crusaders: “Ever order a pizza?”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a handy list every year of the jobs with the highest fatality rates. The leaders are generally the kinds of jobs you’d expect to be dangerous: logging, fishing, mining, flying small planes, building stuff. But one job stands out as a surprise. Driver-sales workers — pizza delivery guys, vending machine stockers, etc. — clock in as the fifth most dangerous occupation with 38 deaths per 100,000 workers every year. The risks of traffic accidents and crime combine to make this one pretty perilous profession.
[The numbers come from 2003. From what I can tell, ever since then BLS reports have combined trucking and driver-sales work into one category. Trucking has a significantly lower rate of fatalities, so 2003 is the most recent year for which I could find useful data.]
In other words, dialing up a pizza from Domino’s is just as bad, probably even worse, than lighting up in a bar. If smokers can’t force bar and restaurant workers to inhale their fumes, then surely people too lazy to cook or pick up their own dinners shouldn’t be able to force drivers to risk their lives delivering food. No worker should ever have to choose between his safety and his livelihood. How many innocents must die bearing midnight snacks for the gluttonous and slothful before we put a stop to such irresponsible behavior?
The lesson is clear. For the sake of the pizza delivery guys, we must ban pizza delivery. Working together, we can have a Delivery Free DC by 2008.
Who’s with me?