Safety considerations for an aging workforce

There are many reasons that North Carolina workers might continue to hold a job into their 60s and 70s. Longer life expectancy and financial pressures are among possible explanations for rising rates of aged individuals working later in life. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is recording increasing numbers of workers at or over the age of 55, and the trend is projected to continue to the point of nearly one-fourth of the workforce in 2024 being part of this age group.

Older workers bring both benefits and challenges to their employers in terms of safety. One of the advantages of employing older workers is that their experience is valuable. Mature workers tend to better understand the dangers of their environments, which enables them to better avoid serious accidents. However, older workers can take longer to heal when they are injured on the job. Statistics show that the average number of days away from work increases with older groups of workers.

Musculoskeletal issues tend to be among the greatest work-related problems for employees from all age groups, but problems for older workers tend to center on major joints as well as the back and trunk. Younger workers are more likely to have problems with injuries to their heads or hands. Statistics also show that the number of deadly falls on the job increases among older age groups. In fact, more than one-fourth of these incidents occur with individuals who are more than 65 years old.

An employee's workers' compensation benefits can address medical needs and lost wages for extended periods of recuperation related to accidents on the job. These benefits are not typically affected by fault, which means that an employee should legally have access to medical coverage even if their own carelessness has led to an accident.

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