Baby boomers, which includes those born between the mid-’40s and mid-’60s, are now becoming part of the older population in the U.S. With this trend, we are also seeing an increase in the number of older people in the nation’s workforce.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 25% of the U.S. workforce is projected to be 55 years or older by 2026. Not only is more of the workplace aging, but many of these workers are also opting to work past the traditional retirement age for a variety of reasons, including:
- Inadequate retirement savings
- The need for continued health insurance and benefits
- Job satisfaction and workplace stimulation
- Social contact
Why Aging Impacts Job Safety
In general, aging affects a variety of health conditions, causes physical and cognitive impairments, and impacts one’s ability to perform a physically demanding job safely. Although older adults are less likely to be injured on the job compared to younger workers, they are at an increased risk of sustaining more severe, debilitating injuries that take a longer period of time to recover from.
Some of the factors that increase the risk of work accidents and injuries for older adults include:
- Loss of muscle strength
- Hearing and vision loss
- Balance issues
- Slow response time
- Limited range of motion
- Trouble remembering things
- Health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, and arthritis
Keeping Our Aging Workforce Safe
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that applies to the older generation of workers. Ultimately, protecting the health and safety of aging workers requires job demands to a specific worker’s capabilities and limitations. Here are a few general strategies, however, that employers can implement in order to prepare a safer, age-friendly environment for older workers:
- Prioritize Workplace Flexibility. To the extent possible, make sure to give workers a say in their schedule, breaks, work organization, and work tasks.
- Match Tasks to Abilities. Workers should only be performing jobs that they are physically able to do and avoid tasks that increase the risk of a work injury.
- Manage Hazards. Floors should be clear of anything that could cause a slip and fall; safety signs should be posted on the walls to help workers who have difficulty hearing.
- Utilize Teams and Teamwork. Teach all workers how to look for signs of potential work injuries with older team members.
- Invest in Skill Trainings. Safe work starts at all ages; make sure everyone is experienced in the latest technology and equipment being used.
If you or a loved one is injured at work in Atlanta, The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford is standing by ready to review your case for free. Contact our firm at (770) 629-9321 to get started with your claim so you obtain maximum workers’ compensation benefits.