Manaola Hewett

Project title: Piloting a health and safety clinic model to address precarious worker concerns

Degree: MS (Thesis) | Program: Exposure Science (ES) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2018 | Faculty advisor: Noah S. Seixas


Precarious work, work that differs from the typical model of standard full-time, year-round employment, exposes its workers to adverse occupational health and safety outcomes such as increased occupational injury rates, higher hazardous exposures, and inadequate safety training and resources. Industries such as agriculture, custodial, food-service, housekeeping and warehouse work are connected to precarious work. Minorities, migrant workers, and small-business workers make up a large proportion of precarious workers, and minimal research has been done to minimize the occupational risks this population face. Building off an existing state-funded grant to educate low-wage workers about workplace safety hazards, this project developed, implemented and evaluated a series of health and safety problem-solving clinics for vulnerable precarious workers. Transfer of health and safety knowledge and resources occurred during three, 2-hour clinics. All clinics were pilot clinics that provided professional support to precarious workers as they identified their primary health and safety problems. The goal was for workers to empower one another through collaboration to address their concerns with the support of health and safety experts. To test the effectiveness of this model, follow-up interviews were conducted with clinic participants in order to determine the utility of the information and resources provided and its impact it may have had at a worker’s jobsite. Worker concerns such as occupational injury, filing a worker’s compensation claim, workplace conflict, and harassment were commonplace across the different occupations at each clinic. Workers stated that the clinics were helpful in getting their voice heard on the issues they face but they need additional support to follow up on the resources given to them. By bringing the health and safety experts to the workers, the clinics provide an opportunity to minimize the adverse occupational health and safety outcomes precarious workers face. URI