The percentage of older workers in the labor force is increasing every year. This phenomenon may herald an increase in both the number of injuries at work and the seriousness of these injuries. According to persons who study the effects of aging on the workplace, employers are now taking steps to accommodate their older workers in an attempt to protect them from common injuries.
The natural process of aging leads to gradually deteriorating vision and hearing, an impaired sense of balance, and muscle weakness. The medical industry has been especially hard hit by an aging workforce. Older nurses, for example, frequently have difficulty moving and lifting heavier patients. A health care system in Richmond, Virginia estimates that 25% of its workers are over the age of 50. It has therefore instituted new procedures allowing nurses to seek assistance from a “patient mobility team” if they are unable to lift a patient by themselves. The U.S. government estimates that by 2024, twenty-five percent of the nation’s workforce will be considered older.
The National Occupational Safety and Health Administration has suggested a number of steps to take to make the workplace safer for older workers. These measures include making work hours and rest periods more flexible. Creating work environments that substitute movement for sedentary activity is another way to reduce the risk of injury. OSHA also suggests making the work environment ergonomically friendly by redesigning workstations and eliminating or reducing hazards such as noise, poor lighting, and causes of slipping and tripping.
Despite the increasing awareness of injury risks encountered at work, workers of all ages continue to suffer on-the-job injuries. Anyone who has been injured while working may be eligible for workers’ compensation or federal disability benefits. A consultation with an experienced workers compensation attorney may open the way to obtain these benefits.
Source: CTPost, “Companies taking steps to keep older workers safe on the job,” Maria Ines Zamudio, Aug. 2, 2017