'We definitely need them' - older employees important, but at higher risk of suffering workplace injuries

The saying goes "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" but new research could see the quip changed to "the older they are, the more they get injured."

A University of Otago study conducted by anthropologist Chrys Jaye has revealed that nearly a quarter of ACC claims for workplace accidents are from workers aged between 55 to 79 years old.

That's quite a significant age-range, but with baby-boomers and population growth taken into consideration there's potential for a concerning amount of workplace injuries for the health system to deal with in the future.

Unsurprisingly, the more physical jobs produce the most injuries.

"The thing that was perhaps of the greatest concern for us is that men were over represented in that group, so men had about twice the numbers of workplace injuries that women had, Maori and Pacific Island and other ethnicities were overrepresented as well," Ms Jaye said.

The research found the injuries sustained were generally soft tissue injuries and fractures, often as a result of falling.

"It seems that the main reason for these injuries was falls, and lifting and carrying were the biggest problems," Ms Jaye said.

Grey Power president Tom O’Connor says the findings backs up their opposition to lifting the retirement age.

"They (workers) should not be under financial pressure to stay at work beyond 65, even that, even 65 in some physically demanding jobs is too old. The smart guys are using older staff as trainers and mentors.

"If they're really smart about it promote them up to a supervisory role - if that's possible and if they're capable of doing it, that's where they should be," Mr O'Connor told 1 NEWS.

Construction firm Naylor Love says based on the company's own anecdotal evidence, the study paints a realistic picture of what is happening in the workforce, and while younger workers who've more recently joined the company had the most accidents, it was the older workers who had more serious ones.

"The younger guys, less experienced, are more likely to have accidents but generally (the accidents) are reasonably minor. For the older guys, with a bit more experience; know what to do, know where to go and don't necessarily have the accidents.

"But with age other issues come where they might have sprains, strains around backs/necks and things like that," Ian McKie of Naylor Love said.

Mr McKie was quick to stress that although they suffer more serious injuries, the older section of their workforce is highly valued.

"We definitely need them, they've got the experience skills and knowledge to help train and develop the younger guys coming up through and share that. So we try and keep them in an environment that’s going to keep them working as long as they want to," he said.

Study author Chrys Jaye hopes the findings will lead to further discussions and approached from workplaces managers to mitigate risks.

A five-year University of Otago study shows men, particularly in manual labour jobs, are at most risk. Source: 1 NEWS



Government spy agency GCSB out to attract more women to world of espionage

The Government spy agency GCSB is offering scholarships in a bid to attract more women into the world of espionage and cyber-sleuthing.

The first of the $10,000 awards have gone to women studying science, technology engineering and maths.

The scholarships come as the agency looks to correct its gender imbalance, with just 36 per cent of its staff being female.

The recipients are not obliged to work for the GCSB.

Just 36 per cent of the agency's staff are women, and it's trying to improve that by offering scholarships. Source: 1 NEWS


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NZ's first UV meter installed at popular Mount Maunganui beach to improve sun safety

A UV meter has been installed at one of the country's most popular beaches in a bid to improve sun safety.

In a New Zealand-first, the public safety sign has been unveiled today at Mount Maunganui beach – eight days before the official start of summer.

Gauging the power of the sun's ultraviolet rays, the sign converts its measurements into a UV index number – which is displaying with advice on when to use UV protection, and in the most extreme cases, when to seek shade.

New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of melanoma in the world.

One of the people behind the sign, Dr Franz Strydom of Skinspots Skin Cancer Clinic, hopes it can help raise awareness about sun safety and encourage people to be safer in the sun.

"It measures the actual part of the sunlight that does the damage and causes cancer, UV light," Dr Strydom said.

"In the Bay of Plenty we are diagnosing between 10-20 melanomas a week. That's just melanomas and we're probably diagnosing by factor of 10 or 20 more other skin cancers that are not melanomas."

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in New Zealand, but is largely preventable, with more than 90 per cent of skin cancers related to excessive exposure to the sun.

The Cancer Society urges most caution between September and April and between 10am and 4pm when the levels of UV are at their highest.

Regularly applying sunscreen, covering up with clothing, finding shade and wearing hats and sunglasses are all recommended to avoid damage from UV rays.

The device will warn beach-goers at Mount Maunganui of how strong the sun's ultraviolet rays are. Source: 1 NEWS