As more baby boomers approach retirement, the American workforce is increasingly populated by employees over the age of 55. In fact, older workers are the most rapidly growing segment of the labor force: today, 19 percent of the working population is over 55, up from just 13 percent in 2003. By 2018, one out of every four American workers is expected to be 55 or older.
As the experience and expertise older workers possess can be enormously beneficial, employers must take into account the special needs of an aging workforce. New research suggests that tackling issues related to injuries among older workers could make the workplace safer for everyone.
Higher Risk for Certain Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently partnered with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a number of state agencies to analyze data about on-the-job injuries and illnesses. The study was specifically focused on how workplace injuries impact older workers (defined as those 55 and older).
Researchers determined that the median length of absence from work due to an injury rose steadily with age: employees between 55 and 64 could expect to miss 11 days of work after suffering an injury or illness, while 12 days was the median lost-time for those 65 and older.
Additionally, it was determined that although older workers are no more likely to fall victim to a workplace injury than their younger counterparts overall, they are at a heightened risk for certain types of accidents. Falls in particular take a heavy toll on older employees, and more common injuries included fractures and hip problems.
In 2009, an estimated 210,830 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred among older American employees that resulted in missed workdays. While this number is high and risk is only expected to increase as the workforce ages, there are steps employers can take to ensure the safety of their older employees.
The injury risks older workers are particularly susceptible to can be mitigated by keeping all walking surfaces clean, dry, and well-lit. In addition, tripping hazards or hard objects that could be fallen against should be removed from walkways. Installing non-slip floors may also drastically reduce injury.
Even though older workers face their own distinct set of safety threats at the workplace, employers can help lessen the risk employees must face by taking a few simple precautions. However, remedies may be available for those workers whose employers are negligent in failing to keep their work environment safe. If you have been injured on the job, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options.