Digital platform work offers new possibilities for businesses and workers, especially for those who may have more challenges to enter the traditional labour market. It means work that is done through, on, or facilitated by an online platform. Among the topics that EU-OSHA is focussing on is platform work as part of its campaign “Safe and healthy work in the digital age”.
The most typical platform business model is the online marketplace that matches supply and demand of labour. It often involves jobs in occupations and sectors such as the transport sector (delivery riders and taxi drivers) and cleaners and handypersons (who are exposed to chemical products and have a high risk of slips, trips and falls). Digital platform workers are governed by algorithms that affect work distribution, payment and worker data collection that can be used for more surveillance.
Because of the non-standard working relationships with digital platform operators, digital platform workers face more risks. They also have low bargaining power and control over their work. This is evident in the delivery and transport sectors, where workers are on site, lower skilled, and under a high level of platform control.
Platform workers also experience isolation, work intensification, long working hours and digital tracking and surveillance that can cause high stress levels. However, their employment status restricts their access to protection. Since platform workers are usually self-employed workers, they are in charge of their own OSH. Platforms are not required to take measures to increase protection of platform workers.
EU-OSHA provides information on its website about risks and how they can be avoided.