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Research at the University of Washington found that working conditions – including pay, hours, job security and flexibility – can affect workers’ health and safety.


A study by the University of Washington published in the Russell Sage Foundation Journal reported that work patterns are changing due to technology. The gig economy, job insecurity, short-term contracts, and long working hours have created a more flexible relationship between employers and employees. These changes impact health and safety.


The researchers studied data from the General Social Survey collected from 2002 to 2014. The data included self-reported accounts from 6,000 USA adults about their physical and mental health and occupational injury. There was a correlation between employment conditions and health and safety.


People employed in jobs with little opportunity for advancements, such as assembly line and factory workers, reported poor physical and mental health. Meanwhile, skilled workers with high-quality jobs such as doctors and military personnel who have to work long inflexible hours had worse mental and physical health than people with standard jobs.


Workers in the gig economy, such as some delivery and taxi drivers, experienced worse health than other types of workers.


Workers who had high control over working hours and could make decisions about their work had better health than standard workers.


Though the research was conducted in the USA, the results are also likely to apply to UK workers. They show that health and safety assessments should look at working conditions, wellbeing as well as essentials like safety training and protective workwear.

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