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How to help prevent workplace injuries among older workers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2015, employees over the age of 65 will represent 20 percent of the American workforce. Twenty-five percent of the workforce will be past 55 years of age by the year 2020. In the interest of decreasing the chance of serious workplace injuries, Los Angeles construction and industrial companies should start considering how to best accommodate older workers.

The good news for employers is that older workers are often safer workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that older employees experience workplace injuries with less frequency than younger employees. The difference may be due to older workers having more experience or to their tendency to exercise greater caution. However, when older workers do get hurt, their time of recovery is usually longer.

Of greatest concern may be the dramatic increase in fatal accidents among those 60 years or older. Therefore the NIOSH has issued a series of recommendations aimed at creating a safer work environment for older workers. These recommendations include making sure the workers are given tasks that will not push them past their capabilities.

Also, employers should understand that some hazards may cause more problems for older workers. Loud noises, for example, could tax an older worker’s hearing to the point where he or she may miss vital safety-related information communicated by coworkers.

In addition, NIOSH recommends strong interaction between older and younger workers. Older workers can pass on valuable information gleaned from years of on-the-job experience. In turn, younger workers can help their older counterparts get up to speed on current technologies.

Industrial and construction work sites always contain a wide range of potential hazards, which may cause serious injury or even death. Employers should take the initiative by ensuring the safest possible work environment for all workers. As the workforce ages, implementation of proper accommodations becomes more critical to lessen the likelihood of injuries.

Should you be injured on a job site, legal representation can ensure that your rights are protected under existing laws. Injured workers should know that workers' compensation exists to cover eligible medical costs for those injured at work. The right information, coupled with the right actions, may greatly increase your chances of receiving payments to aid in your personal recovery.

Source: 

Saftey.BLR.com, “Are you keeping older workers safe? 6 tips for an aging workforce,” April 9, 2014

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