Studies by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that aging workers have fewer workplace injuries, but diabetes, hypertension and other age-related ailments are increasing employers’ costs associated with medical insurance and lost work production.
In a presentation last week at the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Professional Development Conference and Exposition, Safety 2008, in Las Vegas, Chubb Insurance specialist reported that although injury rates among older workers are lower than those of their younger counterparts, other factors can contribute to increased health and safety exposures: age-related chronic disorders and diseases; loss of hearing; impaired vision; and physical and cognitive limitations.
They advices businesses to take action to address each of these risk factors. Some examples of what businesses can do include:
• Allow for flexible work hours so that those with poor night vision can adjust their start and finish time to coincide with daylight hours;
• Encourage employees to use the health care system for preventative well visits;
• Eliminate heavy lifts, elevated work from ladders and long reaches;
• Encourage employees working at a computer to take small breaks every 30 minutes;
• Don’t rely on sound as the sole means of emergency communications, as employees with hearing loss may not hear announcements.