Employer Safety Initiatives Are Needed to Protect Older Workers
According to the National Institute on Aging, 70% of men and 60% of women will work full-time throughout their 50s. Although retirement age is roughly 65, 30 to 35 percent of these workers will remain working at least part-time well after retirement age.
While a more mature employee may be less likely to be injured on account of his experience, if an injury does occur, it is often much more serious and costly. As we age, our reflexes, strength, and flexibility often suffer. As a result, the effects of aging may outweigh the added experience, skill, and knowledge gained over time. As a result, more and more employers are required to implement safety protocols to protect older employees.
Workplace Precautions for Older Employees
Never before have safety initiatives in the workplace been required to factor in such a high percentage of older employees. With the advancing age of baby boomers, many of whom still work full-time, it’s important for employers to ensure that safety programs and training are operating efficiently for all members of the workforce.
While the age of the employee population may be on the rise, the same safety standards should be in effect regardless of age. This means that hazards should be minimized to ensure that every employee, young and mature alike, is protected against potential workplace accidents.
Employer initiatives should include the following:
- Ensure a clean workplace. Employers should enforce that all common areas should be free from debris. Furthermore, all floors should be clean, dry, and even to prevent slip and fall accidents.
- Ensure safety hazard warnings. Uneven or potentially hazardous areas should be marked accordingly. This includes stairways, ramps, and curbs.
- Ensure proper lighting. The older we get, the more our eyesight weakens. Employers should maintain adequate lighting in all employee workspaces to prevent “unseen” hazards.
- Ensure equipment safety. Employers must routinely provide maintenance on all equipment, no matter how small the issue. Remember, even a slight cut or bruise can be devastating to an older employee.
- Ensure older employees get breaks. Breaks are necessary for employees to stretch, move around to increase circulation, and attend to personal needs. Periodic breaks can also help aging employees to gather their thoughts and refocus on the tasks at hand.
While it sounds simple, safety usually boils down to simplicity. By ensuring that basic needs are met, workers of all ages can benefit.
Workplace Peace of Mind
Although you may be older than your co-workers, this doesn’t mean that you should fear injury more than they do. As an employee, you’re entitled to feel safe and secure in your place of employment. If your workplace hasn’t stepped up its safety game, you have the right to report workplace deficiencies to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
For more information on workers’ rights and on-the-job injuries, feel free to browse our library of informative resources. If you have a specific question or concern related to a recent work accident, contact us directly to schedule your FREE consultation.