The nation’s foremost workplace safety agency has issued industry-specific guidance for a number of businesses in the past few months, and late last week it finally released a document designed to help gig economy companies navigate the nation’s reopening. OSHA’s “COVID-19 Guidance for Rideshare, Taxi, and Car Service Workers” is the first formal piece of guidance to help steer this large segment of workers toward best safety practices, and could also be used as a good starting point for other similar gig economy businesses.
The gig economy has created a seismic shift to the traditional workplace model. With new (and oftentimes inexperienced) workers performing dangerous tasks in a “faster is better” manner, workplace safety has the potential to fall through the cracks. While the Occupational Safety and Health Act does not currently provide protection to most individuals working in the gig economy – the OSH Act covers employers/employees, not independent contractors – many employee advocacy groups are calling for more safety protections.