Platform workers are asked about occupational health and safety risks
The consortium of nine research partners includes a research group from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tampere University. Tampere University’s sub-project is gathering data from digital platform employees living in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Data will be collected from October 2023 to March 2024.
Platform work is mostly associated with food couriers seen on the streets. However, platform work is a broader type of work, and the skills required for the tasks vary. In addition to transportation, platform work can include, for example, programming, cleaning someone else’s home and microtasking such as tagging pictures on the WWW.
Platform work is characterised by working through digital platforms. The work is often short-term and gig-like. The two main forms of work are divided according to whether the work is done locally (e.g., food couriers) or only online (e.g., translators). Platforms offer employees the flexibility and freedom to work when it is convenient for them.
Simultaneously, however, platform work comes with challenges especially in the domain of occupational safety. Platform workers working as entrepreneurs are not covered by occupational safety legislation or labour supervision, meaning that individual employees must take care of their own occupational safety protection. Another topical issue is the weak social security of platform workers and their bargaining position.
“As platform work is increasing in Finland, it is important to study its effects on individuals and society more broadly. It is vital to ask platform workers about their experiences so that we can get a better understanding of the health and safety aspects involved and draw up recommendations that are needed for regulating this type of work. The aim is to improve the position and working conditions of the employees,” researcher Hanna Nurmi says.
The survey examines, for example, occupational health risks and self-assessed health and work ability. The survey form also includes questions about algorithmic management, the nature of the worker’s employment relationship, and working hours.
The survey is carried out online with the help of a browser-based and secure REDCap tool, which the participants can access via a link.
The data is anonymised and stored on secure servers. The responses are analysed and used to write scientific research articles. The respondents are also asked if they are willing to participate in an interview that is more detailed than the survey.
EU’s Horizon Programme funds the research
The data collected in the project can provide new guidance for policy makers, businesses and trade unions to protect the health of the European workforce. The main party responsible for the consortium is Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Sweden.
The Finnish part of the study conducted at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Tampere University is implemented by a research group led by Research Director Lauri Kokkinen. The group members are researcher Hanna Nurmi, research assistant Laura Venäläinen, professor Meri Koivusalo, professor Salla Atkins and university instructor Mikko Perkiö.
The research is funded by the European Union’s Horizon research funding programme. In addition, each participating country gets national matched funding. In Finland, the national matched funding is provided by the Research Council of Finland.
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Contact (at Tampere University)
Hanna Nurmi, researcher, hanna.r.nurmi [at] tuni.fi
Lauri Kokkinen, Research Director, lauri.kokkinen [at] tuni.fi