Workers age 65 and older had the lowest incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses, with 89 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2012. Workers ages 45-54 had more cases of injuries and illnesses than any other age group, with more than 290,000 cases.
While older workers are less likely to suffer severe work injuries than their younger counterparts, if they do get ill or injured on the job, the time they’ll need away from work to recover is much longer.
According to recent data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers age 65 and older spent an average of 14 days away from work to recover from an occupational injury or illness, while the median for all other age groups was nine days.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that by 2016, one-third of the total U.S. workforce will be age 50 or older. When it comes to managing an aging workforce, it’s important to understand aspects of the aging process—including loss of visual acuity, hearing loss, decreased aerobic capacity and osteoporosis—that might increase their susceptibility to injuries.
Some ways to address the health and safety of older workers include:
- Implementing age awareness training for supervisors and managers so they understand aspects of the aging process
- Analyzing job positions and targeting specific activities or job duties that may be modified to accommodate the physical demands of the work activity
- Providing reasonable accommodations in the worksite and work process for older workers
If you’d like more information on how to address the health and safety needs of an aging workforce, contact us here at GDP Advisors today. We have a variety of available resources related to the health and safety of older workers.