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Study: all employment conditions affect workers' health, safety

Florida workers know how there are different forms of employment in the modern economy. In addition to traditional full-time jobs with regular hours and job security, there are gig economy jobs, jobs with short-term contracts and jobs with flexible employer-worker relationships. The employment conditions of each of these, taken altogether, can have a big impact on employee health and job safety.

Many studies, though, have not analyzed these conditions as a whole but rather individual factors like pay and shift length. A new study from the University of Washington has striven to correct the skewed view of employee health that results from such studies. It involved some 6,000 working U.S. adults.

According to the study, those who work on a short contract and struggle to gain more hours, called "precarious" job holders, reported worse physical and mental health than those in traditional employment. The results were similar for many people in "dead-end" jobs, however well-paid they were.

Gig economy workers, the self-employed and "inflexible skilled" workers, such as doctors and military members with high-quality jobs but little ability to change their schedule, all reported poor health. However, one group reported the same level of health as those in traditional employment: "optimistic precarious" job holders, who have insecure and low-paying jobs but a high level of empowerment.

Inflexible schedules, high turnover rates and lack of job security can take their toll on employees' health. This, in turn, puts them at a greater risk for on-the-job injury. Those who are injured may receive workers' compensation benefits, but the filing process can be complicated, so they may want a lawyer to assist them. A lawyer may help mount an appeal, too, if the employer denies the benefits. Permanently disabled workers might strive for a lump-sum settlement.

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