Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Safety Modifications Important for Aging Workforce

Workplace modifications for aging workers ...

"While the increase in older workers in the American workforce could suggest a corresponding decrease in workplace productivity and increase in accident claims, the opposite has proven to be true, says a risk management firm. Older workers can be a benefit to the companies that employ them, but when older workers do get injured those injuries tend to be of higher severity.

U.S. companies should consider making workplace modifications that prevent injuries, says PMA Companies, in its new white paper, "Capitalizing on an Aging Workforce." Authored by Ken Nogan, Risk Control Consultant at PMA Insurance Group, the paper reports that since 1977, the number of people 65 and older in the workforce has increased more than 100 percent. In addition:

• It is estimated that workers in the age groups 65-74 and 75 and up will grow more dramatically than any other workforce age group - more than 80 percent.

• More than half of older workers are working full-time, up from 44 percent in 1995.

"Not surprisingly, as people age, their skills and faculties, including strength, range of motion, motor skills, sensory acuity and ability to heal, diminish," Nogan wrote. "While this may suggest that older workers would have a negative effect on workplace productivity and safety, statistics prove otherwise."

The paper notes that as over-55 workers increase in the workplace, so does productivity and overall workplace safety. However, when older workers do experience injuries, severity can be significant, which is an issue that must be considered by safety professionals.

The author writes that these findings lead to two conclusions: one, older workers are a benefit to the company that employs them and, two, it pays to make modifications to work environments to prevent injuries and limit the severity of injuries commonly sustained by older workers."    (Continued via Claims Journal)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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