Crowdsourcing: opportunities, health and safety and regulatory risks

Information and communications technologies have been reshaping our world of work since the 1970s. This OSHwiki article in the spotlight  examines the growth of crowdsourcing as a form of work organisation, including the related social and economic opportunities and the health, safety and regulatory risks involved.

The enormous variety of tasks carried out by crowd workers and the diversity of locations in which this work is carried out indicates a wide range of physical and psychosocial health and safety risks.

Work with computers may lead to stress and physical disorders such as visual fatigue or musculoskeletal problems. Employers have to carry out risk assessments and to take the appropriate measures to ensure that working conditions and the working environment are safe.

When work is classified as freelance, these obligations can be externalised, with the risk transferred to individual workers.

Crowdsourcing work that is carried out offline takes place in a space which is even harder to map than online work, both physically and legally. Some of the activities carried out by crowd workers are in occupations that are notoriously dangerous for workers, e.g. construction work.

Other activities, such as driving a taxi, leave drivers vulnerable to attack and harassment by customers. Risks of inter-personal violence or harassment are also present, along with many possibilities for potential accidents, in situations where crowdsourced workers provide services in the homes of clients.

Psychosocial risks may arise from a variety of working conditions typical of crowdsourced employment, but the traditional job content/context model does not apply to these new forms of work and standard preventive measures may not be applicable.

 

Contains information published by EU_OSHA: Copyright 1998-2016 European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

 

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