200490 Explaining how precarious employment affects health

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:50 AM

Philip Lindsay Bohle, Phd , Work Health Research Team, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Michael Garry Quinlan, PhD , School of Organisation and Management, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
There is now a substantial body of international research indicating that job insecurity and contingent work arrangements (such as temporary or agency work and multi-tiered subcontracting) is associated with significant adverse effects on the health, safety and wellbeing of workers including work-life balance (Quinlan et al, 2001). While some studies make good use of the job strain and effort/reward imbalance models just how these changes to work organisation affect health is not well understood.

We have developed a model to explain how precarious employment affects health – the economic pressure, disorganisation and regulatory failure (PDR) model. This model considers factors in the immediate work environment as well as broader labour market and regulatory effects. While the model is still under development, it has been tested in several surveys, sampling 200 call centre workers, 400 hotel workers and 1600 older workers in Australia. In this paper we analyse results based on these datasets and the ability of the PDR model to explain the relationship between employment status and occupational health and safety (OHS) outcomes.

The paper also highlights the importance of weighting exposure as well as suggesting future refinements in the model, including taking account of spillover effects.


Quinlan, M. Mayhew C. and Bohle, P. (2001) “The Global Expansion of Precarious Employment, Work Disorganisation and Occupational Health: A Review of Recent Research”, International Journal of Health Services, 31(2):335-414

Learning Objectives:
Explaining how precarious employment or contingent work arrangements affect health Evaluating the health effects of contingent work Evaluating a model to explain health and safety effects, including the relationship between economic pressure, disorganisation and regulatory failure Identifying spillover effects in relation to evaluating the health effects of precarious employment

Keywords: Occupational Health, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a B.Ec and PhD degrees from the University of Sydney. I have been researching and publishing on OHS for over 20 years and have undertaken extensive research on the OHS effects of precarious employment in the last 15 years. My published work in this are is cited extensively.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.