Workplace Dangers for Aging Workers

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2014 | Work-Related Injuries

After the recession hit, most of the workforce who were close to retiring had to make a difficult choice to delay retirement. A Gallup poll predicted nearly a 75 percent increase in workers who are over the age of 55 by 2020. Whereas younger employees are more likely to be injured by running into things and overexertion, older workers are presented with other dangers at work.

A new study by members of the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare noticed that the aging workforce is more susceptible to slip and fall accidents at work. Ken Scott, MPH, and Lee Newman, MD, MA, FCCP, FACOEM reviewed data from the 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses as well as the Current Population Survey. Scott stated that “injuries due to slips, trips and falls become more frequent as employees age. The risk of a slip, trip, and fall injury was about five times higher among workers 65 and over than workers age 18 to 19.” They also offered possible explanations for why older workers face different injuries on the job.

The first reason is because, over time, a worker’s physical abilities diminish. Balance can be trickier as inner ear hairs and fast twitch muscles lose sensitivity. Along with balance, flexibility can decrease as much as one percent per year after 30 as collagen breaks down in the body. Muscle strength can diminish ever faster by between three and five percent per year.

Another reason why older workers are more susceptible to falling down at work is their different roles. Scott also stated that “the physical demands of the jobs that workers do changes with age, too. Older workers are more likely to be in supervisory roles rather than physically demanding ones, for example, so their exposures are different.”

There are steps that older workers can take to keep themselves safe at work. But sometimes accidents are unavoidable. If you have suffered an injury in the course of your employment, then contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Comal County today.