Aging Workforce, February 2011

Download Available: Aging Workforce

In workplaces all across America, we are seeing an aging workforce.  Whatever maybe the reason for late retirement, finances or otherwise, employers must recognize the challenges this aging workforce will present in the time to come.

From an employee injury and wellness standpoint, it presents new challenges.  Older workers may need special attention with regard to reduced reaction times, increased fragility and poor vision.  Also, chronic conditions associated with old age such as arthritis, blood pressure and diabetes may play havoc with recovery of a person injured on the job.  A 62 year old employee at an automobile dealership strained his shoulder while reinstalling a pickup truck bed.  The shoulder injury got complicated and has costed more than $431,625.  The claim from 2003 is still open!


Employers must recognize that these workers are knowledgeable and experienced; they have to train them to understand their limitations in strenuous activity such as lifting or work involving repetition.  Slips and falls may be another area where the workplace may have to pay attention to as older workers may necessarily not be able to catch themselves quickly and falls for older people can be devastating.


Wellness programs are known to have a good impact and here employers can promote the merits of nutrition, exercise and proper rest.  Cessation of smoking, more prevalent in older workers can be of help too.  Employers can show them the way to a healthy life by keeping weight, cholesterol, and sugar under control.  Common sense but someone has to lead the way or better still incentivize the whole thing.  A major home improvement chain, for example, the employer provides a $50 credit on health insurance for workers with good weight, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol!
All is not blurry, no pun intended, the older workers bring experience, knowledge and a great work ethic to the job.



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