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Safety risks of gig economy work

Many people in Louisiana and across the U.S. are engaging in more gig economy work. These workers contract with various employers, employment agencies or internet platforms for short-term tasks, being paid per project rather than through an hourly wage. Rideshare services and e-commerce sites are common providers of gig work.

In 2016, the Freelancers Union estimated that 55 million Americans do some form of gig work every year. The Pew Research Center released a study that same year stating that 8 percent of American adults performed online gig work in 2015. Nearly 30 percent of these individuals claimed that the wages provided for their basic needs.

With gig work becoming more dominant, many are concerned about health and safety risks. Gig workers are deemed independent contractors and thus receive neither workers' compensation benefits nor a minimum wage. While many perform gig work only on the side, others make it their full-time occupation; the lack of a minimum wage can lead some to overwork themselves, increasing the risk of accidents. Bicycle messengers and transportation network drivers, for instance, tend to have high injury and fatality rates.

For these reasons, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance that permits gig workers to collectively bargain. By making arrangements less fluid and vague, bargaining could help improve wages and worker safety.

Gig workers who are injured could have their medical bills and property damage covered if they have workers' compensation. However, if the negligence of the company contributed to the accident, the victim may want to consider an injury claim. A lawyer can help build up proof and handle all negotiations.

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