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Employers must take steps to address the needs of an aging workforce

According to the Population Reference Bureau, there are more than 65 million baby boomers, the last of which will turn age 67 in the year 2031. As a generation, the baby boomers are known for many things including the rise of suburban flight and a consumerist culture and the promotion of women's and civil rights. In the coming years, experts are predicting that boomers will also become known as the generation that remained in the workforce the longest.

Longer life expectancies, stagnant wages and insufficient retirement funding are all expected to contribute to a large percentage of baby boomers working well into their golden years. In fact, experts predict that by the year 2020, 25 percent of the U.S. workforce will be age 65 or older. To prevent a spike in workplace injuries and workers' compensation claims, employers would be wise to take steps to address the unique and changing needs of the aging U.S. workforce.

According to Ohio University's Online Masters of Engineering Management program, older workers are more likely to suffer from certain work-related injuries and health conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain. For workers age 55 to 64, these and other types of injuries and illnesses equate to an average of 12 lost work days each year. When compared against workers age 25 to 34, who miss an average of five work days due to these same conditions, it's clear that more needs to be done to address the health and safety needs of older workers.

Employers would be wise to focus on and invest in better ergonomic design. Even seemingly simple and minor changes such as providing standing desks, encouraging workers to take stretch breaks and providing ergonomic keyboards can have a big payoff when it comes to reducing musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.

Source: EHS Today, "It’s A Baby Boomer’s Workforce: Why We Need More Ergonomic Workplaces [Infographic]," Sandy Smith, March 29, 2016

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