Gig workers under the health and safety spotlight

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Sunday, 22 November, 2020 - 12:15
Industry news
National News

The NSW Government recently launched a new research project which aims to implement practical measures to improve workplace health and safety outcomes for gig economy workers.

The first phase of the project, involving comprehensive research and a survey of gig economy workers in the food delivery industry, has now been completed, said Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson.

“Until now there has been a lack of research around the nature of the risks facing gig economy delivery workers which has made it difficult for policymakers to determine how best to respond to this emerging sector,” Mr Anderson said.

“I am pleased to launch the next stage of the project which will engage with gig economy platforms and gig economy workers to identify practical measures and initiatives that can improve workplace safety.”

These measures will be trialled in the workplace early next year and their impact evaluated.

A 2019 study The health and safety risks for people who drive for work in the gig economy in the Journal of Transport & Health found that gig economy drivers experience fatigue, pressure to violate traffic regulations and distraction from their phones.

Furthermore, drivers have little health and safety training and experience occasional collisions and near misses on a daily basis.

The study found 42 per cent of gig workers said they had been involved in a collision where their vehicle had been damaged and 10 per cent said that someone had been injured, usually themselves.

A further 75 per cent said there had been occasions while working when they have had to take action to avoid a collision.

“The emergence of the gig driver could give rise to a perfect storm of risk factors affecting the health and safety not just of the people who work in the economy but for other road users,” the study said.

“Pressure from Government should make these service providers more aware of their employment obligations and provide safeguards for people who generate income for them.”

A final evaluation report on the NSW Government research will be completed in the third quarter of next year and will include recommendations to Government on policy changes that may be needed to NSW’s workplace safety regime.

Mr Anderson said that gig economy work has boomed in recent years, especially during the pandemic.

“This project is both timely and necessary as the gig economy has boomed this year, with no signs of slowing down,” Mr Anderson said.

“While COVID-19 has created opportunities for the gig economy, it has also helped bring to light some of the challenges.”