‘Higher accident risk in gig economy’
The pressures that come with being a self-employed courier or taxi driver may significantly increase the risk of being involved in a collision, a new report by University College London has found.
The majority of those surveyed – 63% – are not provided with safety training on managing risks on the road.
Moreover, 65% said that they are not given any safety equipment such as a high visibility vest and more than 70% resort to providing their own.
Dr Nicola Christie and Heather Ward (UCL Centre for Transport Studies) carried out 48 in-depth interviews with drivers, riders and their managers, and analysed 200 responses to an online survey taken by drivers and riders. The participants included self-employed couriers who delivered parcels and food, and self-employed taxi drivers who received their jobs via apps.
More than two in five (42%) of drivers and riders reported that their vehicle had been damaged as a result of a collision while working, with a further one in 10 reporting that someone had been injured. Furthermore, 8% reported that they themselves had been injured, with 2% saying someone else had been injured.
“Our findings highlight that the emergence and rise in the popularity of gig work for couriers could lead to an increase in risk factors affecting the health and safety of people who work in the gig economy and other road users,” said Ms Ward.
“As more workers enter the economy and competition rises, the number of hours they need to work and distances they must travel to earn a stable income both increase.
“We don’t know exactly how far it extends as not all companies need to report the number of self-employed couriers they use to the government.”
The UCL report includes a list of recommendations for companies using self-employed couriers and taxi drivers limit the pressure they are under.
These include introducing time blocks for couriers to sign up and be paid for, rather than a drop rate. If used, drop to rates should take into account the time taken to travel safely within the speed limit and perform administrative functions such as scanning parcels and obtaining signatures.
Mobile phones should not be allowed to cause a distraction, after the results showed that 40% of those using an app found them to be off-putting while driving or riding. Most of the surveyed couriers on scooters, motor and pedal bikes reported receiving work through an app which played a noise at intervals to alert them to a job with a fixed timewindow.
Other risk points for drivers and riders include tiredness from overwork and the intense pressure of self-employed parcel delivery, with many reporting regular near misses and collisions.
One said: “You must stay within your time windows. The customer gets a delivery window when the parcel will be delivered and if you go out of those windows, you get fined for it.”
Professor Christie said: “In previous years the UK had a good road safety record, but de-regulation over the few years has left self-employed couriers and drivers at an increased of exploitation.
“The Health and Safety Executive has regulations on safety at work, but these don’t apply to those whose work takes place on public highways.
“I hope to see the recommendations in this report taken on board by the Department for Transport and incorporated into health and safety as the gig economy is set to continue to increase.”
Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said: “The damning conclusions of this report back up what GMB has been saying for years – gig economy employers, particularly courier companies, are exposing delivery drivers, riders, and the unacceptable risks to their health and safety.
“GMB calls on the Government to bring forward legislation to enhances driver and public safety – the same laws which exist for those working in the more traditional employment models.” last risk regulations