5 Tips to reduce health and safety risk for older workers.

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.


Ira S Wolfe


  1. Allison August 12, 2008 at 8:56 am -

    Great article and Chubb certainly makes a point about the aging labor risk factors.
    Many employees are embarrassed about issues with hypertension, diabetes so many do not go to doctors and may not even be diagnosed.
    Conversely, there are others who rely solely on a linear solution such as pharmacuetical treatment.
    Education is the Key. Providing opportunities to increase awareness through low cost and/or not cost health testing (yes we have this in public settings now) provide the employee with a self-test so that they can take responsibility of their health and begin to understand how to advocate or seek answers.
    This model has begun at local GNC Live Well-Biomeasure. See us where making a difference has begun in healthcare.
    Be Well.

  2. Christel Fouche August 6, 2008 at 5:45 am -

    I fully agree and support this article. When we discuss this concept during our safety training we normally refer to:
    The 4 phases of exposure:
    – I don’t know what I don’t know
    – I know what I don’t know
    – I am growing, I know it and it is beginning to show
    – I do on the basis of what I know
    As well as:
    – New employee, no initial site knowledge & skill = high risk
    – Established employee, knowledge & skill of working environment is good = low risk
    – Long established employee or older employee, knowledge & skill have plateued or declined = high risk. Regards Christel