Platform work: Physical environment

06 september 2018

Platform work is a form of employment that uses an online platform to enable organisations or individuals to access other organisations or individuals to solve problems or to provide services in exchange for payment.

Physical environment

The physical environment refers to the location, the equipment required and how it is acquired, and the physical health and safety risks deriving from the work. In the context of platform work, on-location work often takes place in a public space, such as public roads, whereas online tasks are often performed from home or other private spaces. The work is rarely performed in an office environment.

Physical environment for platform workers

For all platform workers, job insecurity may contribute to poor overall health, as is characteristic of atypical work in general. The young age of platform workers can also contribute to a higher risk of accidents due to professional inexperience, lack of training and lack of awareness of hazards.

Health and safety risks notably in on-location platform work, while less so in online platform work

Eurofound identified 10 different types of platform work prevalent in Europe as of 2017. Five of these types have been analysed in more detail as regards their working conditions.

  • On-location platform-determined routine work covers low-skilled work that is delivered in person and assigned to the worker by the platform. This type of platform work is fairly widespread as regards both workers and platforms.
  • On-location worker-initiated moderately skilled work covers low- to medium-skilled work where tasks are selected and delivered on-location by the worker. The ability to choose their own assignments provides these workers with flexibility, which is considered a major benefit of platform work.
  • Online contestant specialist work is high-skilled online work where the client selects the worker by means of a contest. Workers performing this type of platform work must prove their skills by carrying out part or all of a task before knowing whether they will be selected as winners and paid. This type of platform work is especially prevalent for creative tasks.
  • Online moderately skilled click-work covers work that is delivered online via a platform and is of very low scale (that is, tasks can often be completed within seconds or minutes). This type of platform work is often used by companies to outsource automation tasks that require a human interaction, such as classifying a picture or categorising a product.
  • On-location client-determined moderately skilled work covers low to medium skilled on-location work that is selected by the client by means of an offer. It mostly takes the form of household tasks conducted by professionals to earn additional income or to occupy spare time.

Comparative overview of selected characteristics of working conditions by type of platform work


On-location platform-determined work

On-location worker-initiated work

Online contestant work

Online moderately skilled click-work On-location client-determined moderately skilled work




99 Designs

Amazon Mechanical Turk Oferia

Physical environment

Source: Eurofound (2018; 2019)

For platform work that takes place on-location, risks for workers include harassment, accidents (such as traffic collisions), and exposure to chemicals (such as cleaning products). Certain risks are exacerbated by the nature of platform work, which is less likely to provide health and safety training than traditional jobs.

Specific risks for online platform work include cyber-bullying, postural disorders, eye strain, and stress arising from numerous factors. For online contestant work, there may be stress due to competition from other workers as well as a due to deadlines and a tendency towards high work intensity.

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