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Overall employment conditions can affect worker health, safety

Many workers in New Jersey don't work traditional jobs with regular hours and job security but instead make money in the growing gig economy. The resulting differences in employment conditions can, taken together, have an effect on workers' mental and physical health as well as on their occupational injury risk. This was the conclusion of a study from the University of Washington. What makes this study unique is that it analyzes all employment conditions rather than a single factor like pay or the type of contract. The following are just some of the findings.

Compared to those with traditional employment, workers in "dead-end" jobs and "precarious" jobs reported poorer mental and physical health. In the former case, workers may be well-paid and unionized, but there is little empowerment or opportunity to advance. In the latter case, workers are on short-term contracts and may find it hard to obtain full-time hours.

Poorer health was also reported by "job-to-job" employees like ride-sharing drivers and by "inflexible skilled" job holders: that is, those with high-quality employment like doctors who nonetheless are tied down to inflexible schedules and heavy workloads. Lastly, it was the "optimistic precarious" job holders whose health was equal to that of traditionally employed workers. These job holders benefit from high levels of empowerment and deeper involvement in decision-making.

Poor health does increase the risk for on-the-job injuries. However, employees who are injured on the job may be eligible for benefits under workers' compensation law regardless of who, if anyone, was negligent. Workers' comp benefits might cover a part of lost wages, all of one's medical expenses and even short- and long-term disability leave, if applicable. To learn more about the filing process, victims may want to schedule a case evaluation. If retained, a lawyer may help with any appeals that need to be made.

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