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Platform work and OSH

IOSH policy position

Platform work is growing around the world, bringing challenges relating to occupational safety and health (OSH). Here is IOSH’s view on it.

What’s the issue?

While platform work may increase labour market access and lead to innovation and entrepreneurship, it also challenges existing OSH frameworks and is being increasingly associated with difficult working conditions and health and safety risks.

There are two common types of platform work: on-location and online. For on-location work, tasks are completed at a physical location, while online work is done at any suitable location on electronic devices. They both involve a variety of physical and psychosocial risks.

How do we see it?

Decent working conditions for platform workers need to be prioritised to address the lack of rights and protection offered to them. We believe there is a fundamental duty on digital labour platforms to protect the health and safety of all workers, regardless of their contractual status.

These platforms should have effective policies to protect workers from risks arising from their activity or service, including when work is carried out in third party premises. This includes the commitment to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to platform workers.

Furthermore, we believe existing OSH legislative frameworks should be extended to all platform workers according to their context and needs. This is because all platform workers, irrespective of employment status or contractual arrangements, deserve a safe and healthy working environment and decent work conditions.

  • Ensure all platform workers are entitled to receive compensation in the event of work accidents and occupational diseases, and be provided with social protection, including sickness and invalidity insurance cover.
  • Secure the right to a minimum wage, collective bargaining, working time and health protection.
  • Secure the enforcement of laws concerning OSH and the working environment for platform workers by an adequate system of inspection.
  • Introduce obligations on platforms to legally conduct an impact assessment before their introduction and to consult workers and their representatives on the planning and introduction of new technologies.
  • Ensure they have policies to protect workers from risks arising from their work and take proactive measures to protect and promote platform workers’ health and safety.
  • Ensure platform workers’ OSH concerns are heard, actioned and followed.
  • Ensure the use of digital surveillance and automated decision-making systems does not put undue pressure on platform workers.
  • Provide restrictions on work-related data collection from platform workers and implement real-time risk assessments on the impact of algorithms on the safety and health of workers.
  • Engage in initiatives that stimulate democratic decision-making and shared platform ownership.

This policy position represents IOSH's view as of April 2024 based on the best evidence available to us. We will review it periodically and reserve the right to change and update it drawing on new information.