The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2024, 13 million people aged sixty-five and older will still be working. These older workers will form the fastest-growing segment of the workforce in the decade ahead. While the total number of workers will likely increase by five percent over those years, the number of workers ages 65 to 74 will swell by 55 percent.
Older workers represent a never-before-seen opportunity for employers. In this economy, retaining older workers can give employers a competitive edge by allowing them to continue taping a generation of knowledge and skill. This knowledge and skill can be leveraged to help younger workers. New employees are not always as perceptive of potential risk or may not pay attention to their surroundings as do workers with experience. By using the buddy principle, older workers can share with younger workers ways to prevent injuries from happening.
The mature worker has also experienced some physical changes that can be easily addressed. Items like:
- Providing step ladders with handrails to assist with balance. When stocking shelves, they can feel safer by having the ability to grasp with one hand while working on merchandise.
- Slow overexertion injuries by reducing over-reaching to a minimum, having their workspace tools closer and easier to access without excessive reaching.
- Computer workstations monitors can be adjusted by increasing contrast for dark text on a light background or increasing text size. Even internet browsers have a ‘zoom’ feature that is easy to adjust at no cost.
- Raise lighting levels in stairwells, especially at the base and top of stairs. Marking stair noses in white or yellow for better visibility can be a significant help.
These ideas are inexpensive and will benefit all workers no matter what their age.
RS Safety has a large section of information on this topic that can be found here.
Safety practices can help aging workers reduce the chance of injury while continuing to do work they find fulfilling. In particular, the relationships with fellow employees and customers can bring a sense of presence and meaning.
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].