The worker–employer dynamic has changed many ways over the last few years in this gig economy.

One noticeable change is the shift from a continuous work agreement with no foreseeable end to a relationship that is finite and encompasses a short-term contract to perform a single task, or freelance work.

Independent workers fatalities by state
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Another change is the emergence of online marketplaces that match freelance labor to specific computer-based job tasks.

One trait most of these services share is their ability to match consumer needs with available workers in real time.

These workers, now known as independent workers, face unique challenges in terms of workplace safety.

At-Risk Group

Independent workers are considered to be an at-risk group due to their fluid employment situation, which may increase their risk for poorer workplace safety and health outcomes.

Now, for the first time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey has published data on the workplace injury and illness experience of independent workers in its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

The census identified 662 fatal occupational injuries among independent workers in 2016 and 613 in 2017.

Independent workers accounted for 12% of the 10,337 fatal occupational injuries nationwide in 2016-17.

The census identifies independent workers as intermediate contractors, independent contractors, on-call employees, day laborers, and temporary-help agency workers.

Statistics show that independent contractors are at the greatest risk.

Industry Data

Of the 662 fatal occupational injuries in 2016, 568 were independent contractors. They accounted for 516 of the 613 fatalities in 2017.

Independent workers accounted for 1,275, or 12%, of the 10,337 fatal occupational injuries nationwide in 2016-17.

Of those 1,275 deaths, 173 were heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, 95 were first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers, 79 were construction laborers, 70 were landscaping and groundskeeping workers, and 68 were tree trimmers and pruners.

Texas had the most deaths in the two-year period—168—followed by California at 127, New York at 60, and Florida at 58.

Connecticut had seven deaths over the two years.

For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).