Finance

How to Stay Safe as a Gig Worker

In our day in age, there are so many great ways to earn extra money. For one, it’s never been easier to start a side business of your own. But while it’s extremely accessible, it takes a lot of time and a serious commitment before you actually start seeing cash roll in.

If you are looking to start making extra money today, however, the gig economy is an amazing place to do it. As a gig worker, you have control of how much time you want to work your side hustle, how much you want to earn, and when you want to take time off.

It’s totally flexible and fits your lifestyle. That’s why work gigs have become so popular. 

But as you are out on your own, whether driving people around or delivering food to a home, there are a few safety practices you’ll want to keep in mind. Keep reading to learn the most important factors when it comes to gig worker safety.

What Is the Gig Economy?

You are probably familiar with the gig economy already. Have you ever ridden an Uber or Lyft? What about having food delivered via Grub Hub? Ever got too lazy to go to the grocery store and order groceries using Shipt?

These are just a few examples of opportunities in the gig economy. Take Uber for example.

Uber as a company doesn’t employ drivers. Instead, they built out a platform that easily connects riders with independent drivers. The drivers are self-employed. They receive payment for each ride they perform.

When they are done driving for the day, they can go home whenever they want. Or if they want to earn extra money, they can continue working as long as they want.

While each company has set rules and expectations, each self-employed worker is really in charge of their own schedule.

It’s a great opportunity to make a few extra dollars in your free time. If you have a full-time job, you might only have an extra hour or two after your day job to work.

Or, if you have kids, you might only be able to work while they are at school or while Grandma is over for a visit. It’s the perfect way to earn extra money to save up for a big purchase, or just to ease your monthly cash flow issues. 

Dangers of Working in the Gig Economy

The nature of the gig economy, however, can be ambiguous at times. As an independent worker, interacting with strangers, there are certainly risks present.

While each company does its best to make the job as safe as possible, they ultimately can’t control their customers.

When it comes to Uber, people often need a ride to or from their homes. This means picking them up at a residential address, often away from a public area. And considering that a large percentage of rides are completed before the sun comes up or after the sun goes down, it’s quite dark too.

On top of that, it’s not uncommon to pick up a belligerent rider. In fact, picking up riders after they’ve spent an evening at a bar or brewery is one of the best ways to earn extra money, as they often tip very well. But it can occasionally be uncomfortable doing so, and maybe even dangerous. 

Plus, the gig economy revolves around you driving your car. Considering how common car accidents are in this country, there’s a risk of accidents every time you drive, whether it’s for work or not.

How to Practice Personal Safety as a Gig Worker

So you’re aware of some of the risks associated with working gigs. How can you stay safe and still earn extra money? 

For one, never do anything you’re uncomfortable with. If there’s a particular part of town you feel unsafe making pickups or dropoffs too, don’t accept those gigs.

If a rider or customer ever invites you into their home or gives you instructions that are beyond your job description, respectfully decline. Say that you aren’t allowed to do so, according to company policy. If they insist, you can drive away.

If you happen to be delivering groceries or food, one of the biggest problems you’ll run across is dogs. Dogs in the yard can be a real threat. Just ask any mailman.

If a yard is fenced in, but you need to get to the front door, it’s best to call the customer. You never know if a dog may be waiting around the corner, and will run out once you are in the yard.

While many dogs are friendly, others will view you as an intruder. Dog bites to delivery associates are one of the most common injuries. 

And of course, since you are driving most of the time, it’s imperative that practice safe driving habits. Your safety, and the safety of those around you, depends on it. After all, your customers would prefer if you were two minutes late, rather than never arriving at all due to an accident.

What Happens if You’re Injured

With millions working in the gig economy each year, there are surprisingly few incidents involving gig workers. However, injury or accidents are possible at all times.

In the unfortunate event that you are ever involved in an accident while working a gig, whether it was caused by someone else or was self-inflicted, you need to know how to handle the situation.

If it’s an emergency, call 911 immediately. The first step is ensuring safety for everyone involved. 

When authorities arrive on the scene, be sure to comply with everything they say. However, don’t admit fault at this time, or it can be held against you if a court case happens. 

Rather, call a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to see how they can help. If you are entitled to compensation, they will be able to guide you through the entire process, helping you to get anything you deserve for the harm you’ve suffered.

Risks and Rewards

The benefits of working in the gig economy are very real. Earn as much money as you want, and work as often or as little as you want. And while the chances of something bad happening are slim, the risks are always present as a gig worker.

Stay safe on the job so you can continue to work at it as long as possible.

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