Jan 13, 2021 - Economy & Business

The new workplace perils

Illustration of a caution sign with a briefcase icon

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Over the last year, jobs that we never considered dangerous have turned into hazardous occupations.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans are finding themselves on the front lines of crises that they didn't see coming — and they're often not trained, or paid enough, to be there.

First, it was the pandemic that put grocery workers, servers and bartenders in harm's way as they continued working in person while a deadly virus ravaged our cities and towns.

Now, in a frayed political climate, more occupations have turned into front-line jobs.

  • "Pilots and flight attendants are trained to keep passengers safe in the air and, since 9/11, to be on the lookout for potential terrorists. But in these extraordinary times, their duties have expanded to include mask enforcement and now, apparently, quelling civil unrest," Axios' Joann Muller writes.
  • Journalists who cover wars have long undergone safety trainings, but last week, congressional and White House reporters found themselves in the middle of an insurrection. The accounts by my colleagues Alayna Treene and Kadia Goba of what it was like inside the room as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol is worthy of your time.

The bottom line: The pandemic, along with the recent political unrest, has upended workplace safety — but laws and worker protections have not yet caught up to our reality.

Go deeper