March 14, 2019

NIOSH Identifies Research Gaps Related to Non-Standard Work Arrangements

A new draft National Occupational Research Agenda published by NIOSH details gaps in research related to the safety, health, and well-being of workers with non-standard work arrangements. According to NIOSH, this type of work—characterized by impermanence, instability, and unpredictable work hours—has accounted for much of the employment growth in the U.S. during the past two decades. Workers with non-standard work arrangements include contingent workers, subcontracted workers, “gig” workers, independent contractors, and part-time workers. Many of these workers often lack legal protections and employer-sponsored benefits, and current occupational safety and health surveillance systems do not adequately capture information about adverse health outcomes associated with non-standard work arrangements. NIOSH urges the development of surveillance methods that measure the prevalence and characteristics of non-standard work.

The agency also encourages research to identify broader socioeconomic factors that have led to a rise in the number of jobs with non-standard work arrangements, and to understand specific risk factors associated with precarious work and non-standard work arrangements.

Other objectives highlighted in the draft research agenda include identifying and examining the effect of changes in worker demographics on worker safety, health, and well-being; addressing the health and safety implications of advancing technology; and decreasing the burden of shift work, long hours of work, and sleep deficiency.

The draft research agenda is available as a PDF in the docket on NIOSH invites comments on the draft agenda until May 13, 2019. Instructions for submitting comments are available in the Federal Register notice.

NORA is a partnership program that was created in 1996 to identify and address critical issues in workplace health and safety. Learn more on NIOSH’s website.