Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

How overall workplace quality affects worker health and safety

Workers in Connecticut can suffer from poorer health or raise their risk for an on-the-job injury because of things like low pay and high turnover. Many studies have looked at the effects of these and other factors, but the problem is that none of them have analyzed all the factors together.

Now, a study from University of Washington has done something to correct the simplistic view of worker health and safety that has arisen. Researchers first considered how more people are being employed in gig-economy jobs as well as jobs with short-term contracts and more flexible employer-worker relations. With this come different trends regarding advancement and the amount of control that employees have over scheduling.

The study involved over 6,000 working U.S. adults who had taken the General Social Survey between 2002 and 2014. Poor physical and mental health and higher occupational injury risks were reported first of all by those in "dead-end" jobs, even with high pay, and "precarious" jobs, or those with short-term contracts and little chance of gaining full-time hours.

"Inflexible skilled" job holders, such as those with high-quality jobs giving little flexibility with hours and scheduling, also fared worse than those in traditional employment. However, "optimistic precarious" job holders fared better; despite low pay and little job security, such workers appear to benefit from high levels of empowerment.

Non-standard hours can, among other things, cause drowsiness. It's well-known, for example, that ride-hailing drivers can get in car accidents because of this. When such drivers are injured, they cannot receive workers' compensation, but workers who are traditionally employed could be eligible for the benefits. The filing process can be complicated, so victims may want to see a lawyer before beginning. The lawyer may help mount an appeal if the employer denies payment. Settlements are also possible.

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