As the number of people over age 55 increases in the workplace, so does overall workplace safety and productivity, according to a study by risk management consultant Ken Nogan of PMA Insurance Group (Belle Glade, PA).
That’s good news because there are more of them: The number of employees 65 and older has tripled during the past 30 years — and the size of workers in this age group is estimated to grow more than 80%. The white paper, “Capitalizing on an Aging Workforce,” found that older workers have lower absenteeism, greater job satisfaction and fewer on-the-job accidents and injury claims than their younger counterparts because they tend to be more experienced, careful and focused on the tasks they perform.
However, the study also concluded that as workers age, their skills and faculties (such as strength, range of motion, motor skills, sensory acuity and ability to heal) decrease, leaving them more vulnerable to severe injury and higher fatality rates.
The paper recommends that businesses modify workplaces to prevent, and limit the severity of, injuries common to senior workers by taking risk management steps to:
- Prevent slips and falls by looking for accident trends and causes related to floor surfaces and walking surfaces; repair loose tiles and torn carpet; secure rugs that don’t lay flat. Also, put two handrails on stairs with color-accented steps, minimize light glare and require shoes with good tread.
- Use task rotation to avoid ergonomic injuries. Conduct ergonomic evaluations of workstations and workspaces to identify causes of fatigue and strain.
- Focus on safe driving because drivers 55 and above are more likely than younger motorist to crash at an intersection or when merging or changing lanes on a highway.
- Employ highly responsive return-to-work efforts for older workers, who take longer to heal.
For more information on the white paper, go to http://www.pmagroup.com/news090304.htm