Are older workers at greater risk for injury in the workplace?

According to federal statistics reviewed by the Associated Press, there has been a decrease in the number of workplace fatalities but the rate at which older workers are dying in the workplace exceeds that of workers in general. Concerns have been raised because many baby boomers are forgoing the traditional retirement and are continuing to work past the normal retirement age of 65. The U.S. government predicts that by 2024, older workers, past retirement age, will make up 25 percent of the labor market.

According to Ken Scott, an epidemiologist with the Denver Public Health Department, the physical changes that come with getting older, such as impaired vision and hearing, diminished response time, problems with balance, and chronic ailments like arthritis, there is the potential for older workers suffering more and more serious workplace injuries.

From 2006 to 2015, while the fatality rate for all workers declined by 22 percent, the rate of fatalities for older workers, over the age of 55, increased by 50 percent. A large part of the increase in fatalities involving workers over age 55 can be explained by the number of older workers increasing by 35 percent during the same time frame.

It has been suggested that older workers are more experienced, and therefore, less likely to cut corners and fail to follow safety rules. Still, there is reason for concern because the inevitable injuries suffered by older workers tend to be more serious, costly, and take longer to heal. That is why the National Center for Productive Aging and Work is involved in an effort to implement changes recognizing the differences to create a safer environment for older workers. The center is working to implement these changes in cooperation with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

All workers need to be vigilant and guard against workplace injuries. If you are an older worker, be an example for the younger workers to help continue the downward trend in the number of workplace fatalities. If you were injured in the workplace, call the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm at (843) 720-2800. They will defend your rights, and help you obtain disability benefits and the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled.

Updated on October 6, 2017

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