Workplace Injuries in Older Employees
There are many reasons why people might start working again after retirement or to delay their retirement. Sometimes, they need the extra money. But in other cases, people might decide to resume working for the social connection and personal fulfillment it provides or to assist a former employer. Regardless of why someone might resume or continue working, older workers are becoming more common in the workforce and it’s important that they have a reasonably safe environment to work in.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers over the age of 55 has more than doubled in the United States between 1992 and 2017. But during that same timeframe, the BLS notes that fatal workplace injuries among workers over the age of 55 increased by 56% even though the number of fatal work-related injuries overall decreased by 17%. The numbers are particularly concerning among workers over the age of 65. In 2017, the number of fatal work-related injuries in the 65+ age group reached a high point of 775, which represents a 66% increase since 1992.
When older workers are injured non-fatally on the job, their injuries tend to be more severe and require longer amounts of time to recover. Even though older workers tend to know the ropes and are familiar with hazards they might encounter on the job, there are certain factors that make them vulnerable to injury. In addition to being more likely to have comorbidities that can make recovery more difficult, there’s a loss of muscle strength that can make people more susceptible to things like falls. Losses of hearing and vision may also make it more likely that someone could be injured at work.
The good news is that improving safety for older employees generally benefits workers of all ages. Here are a few ways to get started.
Improving Safety for Older Workers
Eliminate Fall Hazards
Falls are one of the most common causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older workers and they’re also one of the most preventable types of workplace accidents. Eliminating slip and trip hazards can include making sure work areas are kept clear of clutter, making sure wet floors and spills are promptly cleaned up, making sure workers wear footwear with good traction, and using non-slip flooring materials and covers when possible. Since falls are a common cause of work-related injuries among workers of all ages, this is something that everyone can easily benefit from.
Avoid Sedentary Work & Repetitive Movements
Staying sedentary for long periods of time isn’t healthy for workers of any age. Make sure people have opportunities to get up and move around throughout the day, whether it’s by providing people with sit-to-stand workstations or by providing opportunities for people to naturally move around in the course of their jobs.
While natural movement during the day is important, keep in mind that repetitive movements are something to be avoided since those can take a toll on the body. If possible, a good solution is to rotate employees for tasks that require a lot of repetitive movements so that no one person is spending too much time making repetitive motions. If that’s not possible, make sure people are provided with tools and trained in procedures that will help them stay safe on the job.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a very common type of work-related injury. In 2018 alone, they caused 30% of all cases of work injuries that resulted in days away from work. Some common examples of MSDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves, herniated discs, and muscle sprains, just to name a few. Ergonomics goes a long way in helping prevent a wide range of MSDs. This can include things like adjustable workstations, desk chairs, and computer risers so that people can work in environments that provide them with the proper support they need.
Contact a Michigan Workplace Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured on the job, no matter how old you are, it’s very important to get in touch with a workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible. When it comes to workers compensation claims, working with a lawyer will help ensure your case is handled correctly from the very beginning and make sure that you receive all of the compensation you need.
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