BACKGROUND: The relationship between labour market flexibility, job insecurity and occupational injuries is not univocal. The literature generally focuses on the temporary character of work arrangements rather than on the precarity of careers. The aim of this paper is to identify, without defining a priori what a precarious career is, the most common professional profiles of young people who entered the labour market in the 2000s and to correlate them with occupational injury risks.
METHODS: Using the Whip-Salute database, which combines individual work and health histories, we selected the subjects under 30 years of age whose first appearance in the database is dated after 2000. The occupational history of each individual between 2000 and 2005 was described according to 6 variables (type of entry contract, number of contracts, number of jobs, economic activities, work intensity and duration of the longest period of non-employment). Workers were grouped into homogeneous categories using cluster analysis techniques, which enable to identify different career profiles. Injury rates were calculated for each cluster, and compared within and between the groups.
RESULTS: We selected 56,760 workers in the study period, who were classified in 6 main career profiles. About 1/3 of the subjects presented an employment-secure career profile, while about 45 % of them were classified into 3 clusters showing precarious career profiles with different work intensities. Precarious workers present significantly higher injury rates than those with secure careers, with an increase in risk between 24 and 57 % (p
CONCLUSIONS: Cluster analysis allowed to identify career patterns with clearly different characteristics. A positive association between injury risk and the level of career fragmentation was found. The association cannot be fully interpreted in a causal way, since reversed causality and selection processes may be in action. However the study indicates a disadvantage for precarious workers, who face significantly higher risks of both minor and severe injuries.
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