IOSH Report: Health & Safety Concerns For Platform Workers

Industry News By Sarah

The importance of protecting platform workers when doing their job was highlighted in a recent report by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). 

According to the company, which acts as a Ofqual-regulated awarding organisation and provides qualifications to staff who want to attend health and safety courses, a lot more needs to be done to keep platform workers safe, particularly those in the gig economy. 


The risks for platform workers in the gig economy

Those who work in the gig economy include contractors and freelancers who are used by companies to fill temporary or part-time positions, so they do not have to hire permanent employees. 

Lots of people in construction and manufacturing choose to work this way, as there is a big demand for this form of labour in these industries. 

However, this leaves them with fewer protections than staff employees, which means they could be putting their mental and physical health at risk. 

Indeed, health and safety legislation has been formulated based on traditional employment, which means it fails to consider issues that may occur with gig work. These include a lack of job security, being unable to pay bills, struggling to care for dependents, irregular work patterns, and having an unpredictable income. 


What was the biggest health and safety risk for platform workers

Though you might think working at height or with heavy objects were the biggest health risks for employees, work-related stress was rated more damaging. 

According to the results, two in five platform workers claimed they have been caused stress by their work over the last year, or their stress levels have been exacerbated by work. 

In addition to this, one third stated they felt tired or exhausted by their workload over the past 12 months. 

It is thought around 7,500 people die every day as a result of their unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, which is why it is essential that more is done to protect workers, whether they are permanent employees or not. 


What can be done to improve health and safety for platform workers?

Cooperation between businesses, governments and the health and safety industry is required if conditions are to improve for platform workers, according to the IOSH report. 

Head of policy and public affairs at IOSH Ruth Wilkinson said: “We need to work together … to manage the changes to work carefully, to design, consult upon, risk assess, and implement new technologies sensibly and, crucially, to ensure that people can go home from work safe and well every day.”

It asks for the government to update the International Labour Organization in respect to protecting human rights, health and safety standards, and worker protection as new technologies advance.

IOSH also wants businesses to address their existing health and safety risks and consider emerging ones. They should also include health and safety management in their strategies and make members of staff aware of them by sending them on professional courses. 

Lastly, the health and safety industry itself needs to support sustainable work practices, continue advising businesses, and make sure health and safety is considered in the development of new technologies.

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