The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies is proud to present this report written by Allyson O'Connor, a PhD student in Health Sciences. Allyson is the recipient of the 2016-2017 Washington State Labor Research Grant, an annual award for policy-oriented research in the field of labor.


Allyson O'Connor, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences

Recognizing Hazardous Working Conditions in Nonstandard Employment Arrangements


Health and safety in the workplace are issues the labor movement has fought to maintain for decades. With the organization of workplaces constantly evolving and shifting away from standard employment relationships (SERs), however, there are new challenges to health and safety emerging in the workplace that require more definition.

Allyson O’Connor is a PhD student in Health Services who is tackling some of these issues in her research. She recently received a Washington State Labor Research Grant for 2016-2017 to study occupational health for non-standard workplaces and jobs. In her report, “Recognizing Hazardous Working Conditions in Nonstandard Employment Arrangements,” she breaks down employer-employee relationships in both a standard and nonstandard setting and illustrates the complex and nuanced difficulties of working under nonstandard employment arrangements.

O'Connor finds there is a lack of accountability for the health and safety of employees that nonstandard workers with multiple employers face, as well as the lack of opportunity to grow and receive benefits with part-time and flexible employment. There are also greater pressures to work in high-risk environments and while sick, though sick leave or paid time off is usually not provided. O'Connor’s synthesis offers both an overall look at the body of research that is currently available on nonstandard employer arrangements, and their implications for the present and future health of workers.


Please click the link below to view the full report by Allysson:

PDF iconRecognizing Hazardous Working Conditions in Nonstandard Employment Arrangements by Allyson O'Connor



The evolving nature of work organization and the shift away from standard employment relationships are profoundly affecting the health and safety of workers. As nonstandard employment arrangements grow in the labor market, there is need for greater understanding of hazardous working conditions beyond the traditional occupational hygiene health and safety context. Concepts related to nonstandard employment arrangements such as the fissured workplace, precarious labor, and contingent employment have all sought to explain the health implications of a changing labor market. While each of these terms have some overlapping attributes, and each have been associated with increased health risk in the workplace, their lack of clear conceptual definitions hampers their ability to explain these associations. We identify three key employment conditions which may clarify the adverse health outcomes associated with nonstandard employment arrangements: the breakdown in full-time work, permanent contracts, and direct employer-employment relationships. We explore how nonstandard employment arrangements impact health, including review of common definitions of employment types and proposed mechanisms by which they produce work-related health risks.