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Factor aging employees into work safety equation

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Evidence that the workforce is getting older is showing up in unusual ways. For example, some industries have seen a spike in on-the-job injuries that safety experts attribute to aging workers.

By 2015, 32 million employees will be 55 or older, a 60% increase since 2002. Reason: Many aging baby boomers—now in their 50s and 60s—are delaying retirement.

Factors that increase older workers’ potential for injury-producing accidents include muscle weakness, balance problems, vision problems and side effects from medicines. To lessen those risks, employee benefits consulting firm Lockton recommends:

  • Evaluating tasks performed by older workers to determine how much physical strength they require and whether they call for repetitive motion—a particular risk factor for older workers
  • Implementing controls to prevent injuries, such as job rotation, the use of mechanical aids, automation, teamwork and new processes
  • Reassigning older employees whose current jobs are not aligned with their physical capabilities.

Note: Make sure your mitigation measures aren’t discriminatory. Make changes based on specific working conditions and employee capabilities, not on strictly age-related criteria.

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