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  • Gig workers of color reported feeling unsafe nearly twice as much as white workers, says Pew Research Center
  • Twice as many workers of color said that they experienced unwanted sexual advances on the job. 
  • People of color make up a vast majority of gig workers, and say they fear coronavirus exposure.

Gig workers of color in America are twice as likely to report health and safety risks as their white peers — and that's on top of lacking the basic benefits enjoyed by full-time workers.

A new study by the Pew Research Center found that gig workers of color in the US were more likely than their white peers to report feeling unsafe, sexually harassed, and exposed to health risks while on the job. Often classified as independent contractors, gig workers overall don't get the job security, legal protections, and health insurance that workers classified as employees usually get. 

Of the more than 53 million gig workers in the US working for platforms like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart, 69% are people of color, increasing their risk of work-related safety hazards, according to Pew. Hispanic adults are more likely than any other ethnic group to have done gig work, making up 30% of respondents, while 20% are Black adults and 19% are Asian adults. White adults only make up 12% of the gig work population. (The Pew Research Center does not distinguish between white and non-white Hispanic populations, and the percentage of white adults calculated does not include white Hispanic respondents.)

Based on the Pew survey, here's how gig workers of color reported their on-the-job conditions.

Gig workers of color are more likely to report feeling unsafe 

Of non-white workers, 41% said they have, at the very least, sometimes felt unsafe while completing jobs, compared with 28% of those who are white.

They are also nearly twice as likely as their white peers to say they have often felt unsafe while working — 15% for non-white workers, and 8% for white ones.

Transportation accidents, for instance, make up nearly half of workplace fatalities, lawyers representing gig workers told EHS Today, an occupational safety and health magazine, in 2019. They also noted that a lack of proper new-hire and refresher safety training meant that gig workers might lack the knowledge or skills necessary to perform their jobs safely for companies like TaskRabbit and Amazon Flex. 

They're more likely to feel sexually harassed

The report, which collected data in August, also made it clear that the type of safety issues the gig workers experience differs based on race. 

Across the board, gig workers of color in the US are more susceptible to unwanted sexual advances. 24% of non-white workers said that they have sometimes experienced unwanted sexual advances while on the clock, compared to 13% of white workers.

When it comes more benign occupational hazards, such as being treated rudely by customers, there are no statistically significant differences between white and non-white workers. 

And they report more fears over COVID exposure 

Non-white gig workers also reported having more job-related health concerns than white workers did, especially where exposure to the coronavirus is concerned. 

59% of non-white respondents who have worked gig platform jobs in the past year said that they have been at least "somewhat concerned" about getting the coronavirus while working these jobs, compared with 38% of white respondents. The Pew researchers noted that these racial and ethnic differences in gig workers' fears line up with concerns about the coronavirus across racial and ethnic groups broadly. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reinforces this. More COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths occur in areas where racial and ethnic minority groups live, they said. 

"In addition, community strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 might cause unintentional harm, such as lost wages, reduced access to services, and increased stress, for some racial and ethnic minority groups," the CDC wrote on their website. 

Some gig jobs, such as rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, require close contact with the public, and potentially increase one's risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Some 51% of workers who have earned money through gig platforms over the past year say they have been at least slightly concerned about contacting the coronavirus while on the job, according to the Pew study. 

Read the original article on Business Insider