On the Move and Working Alone: Policy Implications of the Experiences of Unionized Newfoundland and Labrador Home Care Workers

Fitzpatrick, Kathy and Neis, Barbara (2016) On the Move and Working Alone: Policy Implications of the Experiences of Unionized Newfoundland and Labrador Home Care Workers. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 13 (2). pp. 47-67. ISSN 1477-3996

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Homecare work is female-dominated, generally precarious, and takes place in transient and, sometimes, multiple workplaces. Homecare workers can engage in relatively complex employment-related geographical mobility to, from, and often between work locations that can change frequently and are remote from the location of their employer. Like other precarious workers, homecare workers may be more likely to experience work-related health and safety injuries and illnesses than non-precarious workers. Their complex patterns of employment-related geographical mobility may contribute to the risk of injury and illness. This paper explores patterns of employment-related geographical mobility and ways they influence the risk of injury and illness among unionised homecare workers living and working in two regions of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, on Canada’s east coast. It uses Quinlan & Bohle’s ‘pressure, disorganisation, and regulatory failure’ model to help make sense of the vulnerability of these workers to occupational safety and health risks. The study uses a qualitative, multi-methods approach consisting of semi-structured interviews and a review of government and homecare agency policies, as well as 20 Newfoundland and Labrador homecare collective agreements. It addresses two main questions: What are the work-related health and safety experiences of interviewed unionised homecare workers in Newfoundland and Labrador?; How do policies (government and homecare agency) and collective agreements interact with employment-related geographical mobility to mitigate or exacerbate the occupational safety and health challenges confronting these workers? Findings show that these workers experience numerous work-related health and safety issues, many of which relate to working in remote, transient and multiple workplaces. While collective agreements mitigate some health and safety issues, they do not fully address particular occupational safety and health risks associated with working alone, working remotely from employers, and working in transient workplaces, or the risks associated with commuting between workplaces. More active union engagement with these issues could be a mechanism to improve the health and safety of these and other homecare workers.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/14229
Item ID: 14229
Keywords: Employment-related geographical mobility, homecare workers, occupational safety and health, precarious employment
Department(s): Divisions > On the Move Partnership
Date: 5 January 2016
Date Type: Publication
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