Precarious Work is Dangerous. Find Out Why.

No matter what occupation you’re in there is no denying that work and health are interconnected. One of the most talked about relationships in this area is the dangerous effects of precarious work on the health of employees. 

Hazardous Work Environments

Workplaces that have precarious employment tend to have much more dangerous work environments. Studies have shown that people who are finding work through temp agencies are more prone to injuries than other hired workers and tend to work in harsher working conditions. Often these workplaces have almost no safety training at all, leaving workers with little to no information of what to do in the case of an emergency or if they should face a hazard at work.  

Health Effects

Those who work in precarious jobs tend to have to do tasks that are more physically demanding than other types of employment. When you combine this with long hours and little training this can result in serious injuries. The stress of precarious work can also have physical health effects including insomnia and heart disease. The inability to call in sick or make doctors’ appointments due to an unstable work schedule means workers are often working in constant pain or illness. Research has even found that those who are in higher earning positions tend to live three to eight years longer than those in low-income positions. 

Less Protection

People who work in precarious workplaces almost never have any sort of health benefits. This means drug costs or the cost of health procedures  are left to the employee. They also have less access to important workplace resources such as Occupational Health and Safety guides and aren’t able to speak out against workplace abuses or harassment for fear of retribution or termination. These workers are almost always non-unionized and are not covered by a collective agreement. 

Work-Life Conflict

Working in a precarious position can create chaos in your personal life. Your paycheque can change from week to week, your schedule can change at the drop of a hat and you have little time or the stability in your life to make personal commitments. This can have a huge impact on your mental health. These types of jobs are strongly linked to high rates of depression and anxiety. 


This type of work and the dangers that come with it are having a huge impact on millennials. Millennials tend to start out in the workplace with huge amounts of student debt and are typically over-educated for the jobs they are getting. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that almost 40 per cent of young workers are in non-standard work, such as contract or temporary work, or involuntary part-time employment. Starting out here means there are less opportunities to move out of this type of low wage work and move into better careers. This increases their risk of falling into poverty and staying in it. It becomes a trap. 


What many experts are calling for is more public health interventions that focus on employment and the changing nature of work. Most of this work has focuses on behavioural or lifestyle changes but has largely ignored work.  

Becoming unionized is another way of helping those in dangerous precarious work positions When you have a union contract your schedule is stable and you are guaranteed to have a good wage. You have someone looking out for your best interests at work, making sure you are healthy and safe.  

You can also contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission where you can file a complaint if you believe your human rights have been violated. There is also the resource of Employment Standards that can be contacted if you have any questions.


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