Many gig workers go to an employer/client workplace to fulfill their contracted tasks. And as gig workers they are not normally covered by an employer’s health or accident insurance, nor are they eligible for sick leave or pay. In fact, a recent survey of on-site gig workers found that:
- 64% of respondents have no sick pay and many workers go to work sick just to ensure they get paid.
- Almost half work with no holiday compensation and many work on holidays for the extra money.
- Only one-third of contract workers have access to occupational health support compared to 54% of their permanent counterparts.
- The vast majority would like to have an up-front agreement with an employer that spells out some parity with regular employees regarding health and safety.
To add to the concern about gig workers health and safety, another recent report has stated that on-site gig/temporary workers make up one in eight of on-the-job deaths.
Until things change substantially, gig workers, whether on-site or off-site, are on their own for their own health and safety. But there are a number of things they can do to promote health, well-being as well as to prevent accidents and illnesses.
1. Be assertive and ask questions
If you find yourself in a work environment that could be hazardous, or if you are not provided with basic safety information (e.g., fire exits), then you must speak up. Ask questions of your contractor or co-workers until you are satisfied that you will be reasonably safe. For example, if regular employees in your area are wearing helmets, goggles, specific boots, etc., demand the same for yourself.
2. Get reasonable amounts of sleep
Recent studies also show that adults need more sleep than they think – about seven hours, actually. The U.S. Center for Disease Control has summarized and published the amount of sleep necessary for adults, ranging from seven to nine hours.
While this is not always possible, strive for that amount of sleep as often as possible. People who are tired are not as alert as they should be and are more privy to making costly physical and mental mistakes. The American Safety Council has listed these dangers specifically:
- Impaired motor skills
- Poor decision-making and risk-taking
- Poor memory and information processing
- Inability to deal with stress
- Reduced productivity
The bottom line: don’t let your hassle take away your sleep.
3. Find ways to relieve stress
For gig workers, stressors are a bit different from those of regular employees, but no less impactful. The biggest stress factor is uncertainty. Because some months you can line up enough gigs at no time and the next one, you are struggling to hit your income goal. The vicious ‘feast and famine’ cycle amplifies your anxiety and radically elevates stress levels.
Other common stressors include not feeling totally up-to-par when constantly switching workplaces and teams; employer demands that may involve working longer hours with no overtime pay; feeling socially isolated and self-imposed stressors of needing to do more than required to get that good reference.
All of these things can add up quickly. Considering that you may not have access to counseling and therapy, you’ll need to learn how to manage those mounting stress levels yourself. Below are several proven methods:
- Take regular walks – brisk or slow, up to you.
- Meditation, even for very short periods of time, can help you cope with anxiety.
- Deep breathing
- Take regular time off, even if it is a “staycation.”
4. Watch your diet
Learning about nutrition and being mindful of your diet is vital to wellbeing. According to
Medtronic, your diet provides your body with energy, promotes good sleep, can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases and promote your overall health.
“Whether you eat in a company cafeteria or take you own lunch, commit to eating healthier,” said Brian Lettieri, CEO of MedLabs. “Avoid fast and fatty foods, opting for salads, whole grains, good sources of protein and dietary supplements which are known to have calming effects.”
Sugar and carbs may give you short-term energy, but you will then “crash,” and that condition leads to many of the same symptoms as lack of sleep. You will lose focus and mental alertness. When your body craves that boost, snack with a superfood instead.
These four tips are not hard to implement and you can take action today to put them into place. Your health and wellness are totally up to you – protect it. After all, preventive methods are always less expensive than treatments.