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Injury rates among gig economy workers are being underreported

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The gig economy soared to new heights as people were restricted to stay-at-home orders but new research highlights the high injury rates among the sector

You may not have heard of the gig economy, but you have almost certainly used its services.

From Uber Eats, to Deliveroo and Menulog, these services are removing connection and enhancing convenience.

At the click of a button, users can select from nearby restaurants and have their food delivered to their door within minutes.

But new research from Macquarie University has found gig economy workers who are delivering meals on bikes, are getting hurt while they’re on the job.

SafeWork NSW reported 37 pedal cycling injuries that were linked with commercial delivery between 2019 and 2020.

However, researchers found at least 43 cycling-related injuries during the same period.

“For 172 of these records, 46 per cent, we couldn’t confirm their work status; but of the remaining records, we were able to identify 43 (12 per cent) commercial delivery cyclists and 153 (42 per cent) non-commercial cyclists.”

Dr MITCHELL SARKIES, MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY

TICKER NEWS spoke with Dr Mitchell Sarkies from Macquarie University, who found these workers were injured from crashing or coming off their bike.

“But they kept delivering to the end of their shift before going to the ED and discovering they had a concussion or fracture,” he says.

Around one-third of Australians use a meal delivery service. Meanwhile, around 81 million users are on Uber Eats in the U.S., which makes it the most popular single app delivery service.

Who are these workers?

These cyclists are predominantly male and likely to be younger in age. In most cases, they are likely to have a primary language other than English.

“These figures support previous claims that suggest most commercial delivery cyclists are temporary migrants in Australia,” Dr Sarkies said.

Dr Lauren Christie from St Vincent Health Network told TICKER NEWS “there was a high incidence of minor injuries in relation to broken bones, people experiences falls, grazes and scrapes, as well as some other injuries as well.”

“It will be really important moving forward that we look at ways that we can improve the accuracy of the data.”

DR LAUREN CHRISTIE, ST VINCENT’S HEALTH NETWORK

Dr Christie believes more training and safety practices should be put in place to protect these “inexperienced, and vulnerable road users”.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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OpenAI to offer premium ChatGPT service

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OpenAI has announced a monthly plan that will give you priority access to the ChatGPT bot

ChatGPT Plus is set to cost $20/month, and allow a user the ability to use the chatbot even during peak times, where free users would have to wait.

The company also says the plan will give you “faster response times” and “priority access to new features and improvements.”

OpenAI will be sending out invitations for the service to people in the U.S. over the next few weeks, before expanding to other regions around the world.

This comes amid the company revealing that a mobile phone version of the chatbot is being developed.

Currently, it is only available as a computer program.

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Meta stocks soar in ‘Year of Efficiency’

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Meta Platforms has announced a better-than-expected sales quarter, as well as a USD$40 billion stock buyback.

The parent of Instagram and Facebook cut its cost outlook for 2023 by $5 billion, and projected first-quarter sales that could beat Wall Street estimates.

Meta stock surged nearly 19% in after-hours trade.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg described the focus on efficiency as part of the natural evolution of the company, calling it a “phase change” for an organisation that once lived by the motto “move fast and break things.”

“We just grew so quickly for like the first 18 years,” Zuckerberg said in a conference call. “It’s very hard to really crank on efficiency while you’re growing that quickly. I just think we’re in a different environment now.”

The cost cuts reflect Meta’s updated plans for lower data centre construction expenses this year.

In November, the company cut more than 11,000 jobs in response, a precursor to the tens of thousands of layoffs in the tech industry that followed.

“Our management theme for 2023 is the ‘Year of Efficiency’ and we are focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organisation,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.

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U.S. Fed Reserve hikes interest rates by 25 basis points

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The U.S. Federal Reserve has announced its latest interest rate hike

 
The 25 basis-point increase comes after a half-point hike in December, and a three-quarter-point increase the month before that.

And it came with the forecast that the Fed isn’t finished.

“We will need substantially more evidence to be confident that inflation is on a sustained downward path,” U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a press conference.

Powell noted positive signs that inflation was beginning to abate.

“We can now say I think for the first time that the disinflationary process has started, and we see it in goods prices, so far…but it is insufficient to signal an end to the rate hikes, though it would be stepping down from last year’s rapid pace of increases.”

Future rate increases would be in quarter-percentage-point increments.

“We will continue to make our decisions meeting by meeting, taking into account the totality of incoming data and their implications for the outlook for economic activity and inflation,” Powell added.

The decision lifted the benchmark overnight interest rate to a range between 4.50% and 4.75% – a move widely anticipated by investors and flagged by U.S. central bankers ahead of this week’s two-day policy session.

Inflation, based on the Fed’s preferred measure, slowed to a 5% annual rate in December.

The Fed hopes it can continue nudging inflation lower to its 2% target without triggering a deep recession or causing a substantial rise in the unemployment rate from the current 3.5%, a level rarely seen in recent decades.

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