Why Employers Must Focus on Aging Workforce Safety

Today, people are working much longer than ever. In fact, the Bureau of Labor reported a 101% increase in the employment of workers aged 65 or older between 1997 and 2007, along with a whopping 172% rise in employment of workers aged 75 or older. While workers can be productive at any age, they tend to experience more medical problems and health concerns as they get older. These conditions can cause them to suffer work-related injuries and have the need for workers’ compensation. This high risk of injury makes it important for employers to focus on aging workplace safety.

Why Older Workers Remain on the Job

Research shows that workers are continuing to work for a number of reasons, including:

  • A longer life expectancy from better medical treatment and healthcare access
  • Financial need
  • The personal desire to stay productive on a regular basis
  • Job satisfaction
  • Fewer qualified workers.

More Years on the Job Lead to More Workers’ Comp Injuries

As the number of older workers rises, there is also a rise in the severity of workers’ comp injuries. Even though older workers tend to suffer fewer occupational injuries as they age, the injuries they experience are usually more severe and may be worsened by pre-existing conditions. It’s also important to consider that older workers develop more disabilities as they age, while their existing disabilities become more apparent and disruptive. Plus, personal health hindrances like diabetes and obesity can also increase their risk of workers’ comp injuries.

In addition to suffering more severe injuries on the job, it also tends to take longer for older workers to fully recover. Experts say it takes older workers an average of 13 days longer to recover from injuries and that their chronic pre-existing conditions can complicate both their treatment and recovery. As a result, older workers may experience more incidents and accidents that require workers’ compensation.

Getting Down to Business on Aging Workforce Safety

With the higher risk of injuries among older workers, the Department of Labor is strongly urging employers to enact certain practices and programs to maximize aging workforce safety in order to retain their talented, older workers. These workplace upgrades include:

  • Safety-minded workplace practices.
  • Offering health and wellness programs.
  • Optimized workplace ergonomics and conditions to decrease the demands of a job.

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