More needs to be done before workplaces safe for aging workforce - study

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1 NEWS

A University of Otago study has concluded that more needs to be done to keep older employees safe in their work environment.

Diane Maxwell says she is hearing from people that they still feel young and active at age 65, and the workforce will need to accommodate that.

Source: 1 NEWS

With the number of older workers set to double by 2036, Associate Professor Chrys Jaye of the university’s Department of General Practice and Rural Health, says employers need to make work places as hazard-free as possible.

"This means taking into account risks related to age-related impairments such as declining vision, hearing, physical capacity and balance. This might include re-designing workplaces to meet the needs of older workers, and worker training and health promotion in the workplace," she said.

The study found that older workers were a significant burden on ACC with just over one in five accepted claims for all traumatic work injuries being made by workers aged 55 to 79, from 2009 to 2013.

Overall, 70 to 79-year-olds had the highest rate of work injury entitlement claims, and the highest percentage (five per cent) of fatal injury, among 55 to 79-year-olds.

The research, which was funded by the Dunedin School of Medicine Dean’s Bequest Fund, found that the increased rate of injury could be due to factors including decline of physical and cognitive function with age, underestimation of risk when overly familiar with a hazard and the workplace safety culture.

Moving forward, Ms Jaye believes employers and policy makers should value older employees productivity and she has issued a reminder that, "A workplace that is safer for older workers is likely to be safer for all workers."

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