The workforce is getting older. People are living longer, and dollars aren’t going as far as they’d like. How much of the work force will be at least 55 years old in five years from now? Look at you workers whose still on the job. This is just the world today. Workers are working longer.
That’s good news for companies that don’t want to lose the benefits of older workers – institutional knowledge, lower turnover, more dedication to work, and positive values. But while older workers also tend to have fewer workplace injuries, they generally take longer to heal. With this, Employers must take steps to address this change in the work place.
The Aging Process
Generally, the human body will show signs of aging around ages 40 to 50. However, no two persons are exactly alike. But most will similarly have or show signs associated with aging, like impact vision, hearing, strength and flexibility, and cognitive skills.
What can you Do
Employers cannot point out single older workers for health-related changes without running the risk of discrimination allegations, unless it is an accommodation for someone with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. But you can make changes to make all workers safe. These changes while simple, will help the older workers as well.
But before you make the change, talk to the workers. They are doing the work and can be of assistance in providing insight to what can be changed. Plus, they will feel like the changes are a part of a cooperative effort to make the work place safer and therefore will buy-into the change with less resistance.
1. Make the lighting brighter. Put adequate lighting in all areas – inside and out, to make sure surfaces are clearly visible.
2. Keep the work site clean. Get rid of any clutter and have a policy that requires workers to move objects or debris out of normal walking areas. Walkways should also be free of electrical cords and any other objects.
3. Reduce all Noise. Make sure the noise level is at conversation level, unless impossible due to the e type of work. When possible, provide sound-reducing headphones; but make sure any warning bells or alarms have visual as well as auditory alerts.
4. Solid footing. All walking surfaces should be kept dry. If an area is perpetually wet, make sure there is adequate signage and towels to dry the area. Provide mats and slip-resistant shoes for workers in areas where there may be grease or slippery surfaces.
5. Assistive devices. When possible use manual hoisting cranes are a great way to help reduce back strain and prevent musculoskeletal problems.
6. Adjust work space. Make sure workers are comfortable and are properly situated in their chairs and at their desks or other working area.
7. Properly Working Tools. Make sure equipment is always in proper working condition and that safeguards are fully operational.
Making simple changes to help the employees at all levels is an easy way to prevent injuries to all workers, especially older ones.