I have often wondered about this. I have been in many high rise/apartments where the panel is on the wall of the kitchen counter. I always have to lay on the counter top in order to open up the panel. These are building from the 1970's.
Has anything changed over the years with the working space requirements?
On the other hand, maybe the kitchens have been renovated over the years and cabinets have been placed in front of the panels?