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Employers must address safety needs of aging workforce

Spanning the 18 years after World War II, the U.S. states experienced much economic and societal growth and change including a significant increase in the U.S. birth rate. Today, the estimated 75.4 million Baby Boomers who were born between 1946 and 1964, span in age from 51 to 69. For individuals of this generation, many are or will continue to work well into their 60s and 70s.

Increased life expectancies, economic downturns and a failure to save enough for retirement are all factors that are likely contributing to Baby Boomers delaying retirement. Additionally, many Baby Boomers simply want to continue working and some are embarking on job or career changes at an older age.

As individuals who are age 50 and older move into different jobs or occupations, employers must take steps to consider and address training and safety. When an older employee is hired, employers often assume that he or she is already knowledgeable and experienced and therefore doesn't need training. This isn't, however, always the case and a growing number of older workers are suffering the consequences.

2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that a total of 656 workers age 65 and older died in work-related accidents. This figure represents nearly an 18 percent increase from the 557 fatalities for this age demographic that were reported in 2013.

During 2014, the highest number of work-related fatalities among workers age 65 and older stemmed from "transportation incidents, including the oil and gas industry." In fact, the lives of more workers of all ages were claimed in accidents related to "transportation and material moving occupations."

As more and more individuals continue to work well into their 60s and 70s, U.S. employers would be wise to address some of the unique safety issues facing older workers. For example, physical limitations such as reduced strength and coordination and possible vision and hearing impairments are factors that may affect a worker's ability to perform certain job-related duties.

Source: Business Insurance, "'Old dog' workers still need to learn new tricks," Stephanie Goldberg, Sept. 24, 2015

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