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Health And Safety Of Gig Workers In The Spotlight

Posted: 08/12/2017

A new survey carried out by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has revealed that there are discrepancies between how health and safety is handled for permanent workers and their non-permanent colleagues.

The organisation stressed that more needs to be done to ensure that non-permanent workers are given the same level of training and information as those who work for a company on a permanent contract, as well as ensuring gig workers are taken care of in the event of illness or injury.

In the survey of non-permanent workers, 64 per cent said they were working without sick pay, with half claiming that they have worked while sick to ensure they got paid.

What’s more, only 53 per cent received a full induction process, when they started working for their company, compared to two-thirds of those in full-time employment.

This kind of induction is essential as it provides details regarding fire exits and other information on health and safety for new starters or sub-contractors. You may want to think about how your company communicates emergency response plans and health and safety plans to contractors, as well as to its full-time members of staff.

Shelley Frost, IOSH Director of Strategic Development, commented: “There shouldn’t be discrepancies between permanent employees and non-permanent workers in employers’ measures to safeguard their safety, health and wellbeing.”

She pointed out that health risks in the workplace “don’t discriminate according to your employment status”, which is why it’s so important that businesses treat all workers equally, regardless of whether they’re permanent staff or on a contract.

Respondents to the survey were also strongly in favour of establishing an upfront agreement between an employer and non-permanent worker that provides parity on workplace precautions for health and wellbeing.

In fact, 89 per cent of those surveyed agreed that this would be a good idea and said the health and safety element was one of the most important to get right.

Mr Taylor, Royal Society of Arts CEO, who was responsible for the Taylor Review into modern work practices that was published back in July this year, agreed that there shouldn’t be “any barriers to flexible workers enjoying the same standards of safety and health as their permanent colleagues”.

Where health and safety is concerned, there is still work to do within many industries in the UK, the latest figures suggest.

Data published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) earlier this month revealed that there were 137 deaths as a result of workplace accidents in 2016/17, while 609,000 workplace injuries were reported during the same period.

Slips, trips and falls on the same level was identified as the main cause of workplace injuries last year, while falls from height accounted for seven per cent of non-fatal workplace injuries.

Workers were more likely to get hurt carrying out lifting or handling tasks, or by an object striking them, the figures showed.

Martin Temple, HSE Chair, said that although the UK has an excellent reputation globally for its health and safety record, the country “cannot rest on our reputation”, stressing that firms need to take responsibility and ensure that all their staff receive the correct training to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring.