November 12, 2018
Many older workers are foregoing retirement and choosing to work into their 60s, 70s, and even later in life. Baby boomers are a substantial part of the current workforce and according to U.S. government estimates, older workers will make up 25 percent of the labor market by 2024. This trend has had alarming consequences in terms of workplace injuries, with older workers suffering injuries more frequently than their younger counterparts.
Common Injuries Suffered by Older Workers
As they age, older workers tend to suffer more injuries, partly due to the slowing down of both physical and mental processes as one gets older. Certain effects of aging such as decreased hearing, eyesight strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility make older workers more susceptible to workplace injuries. The following are the most common injuries among older workers:
- Musculoskeletal injuries: This type of injury can develop over time from repeated motion, force, pressure, vibration, or maintaining awkward positions. Older employees who have spent many years performing repetitive tasks may develop musculoskeletal injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis.
- Strains and sprains: Older workers may suffer strains and sprains more frequently than younger workers due to the natural process of aging. Particularly in physical labor jobs, such as construction, the risk of sprains, strains, and other muscular injuries is increased for older workers.
- Overexertion: As workers age, their stamina and tolerance for extreme weather may be reduced. Standing, bending, or lifting heavy objects for long periods of time can lead to injuries from overexertion.
- Contact with objects and equipment: Older employees may not notice hazards, such as obstructions in a walkway or uneven flooring. Injuries from slips, trips, and falls can be serious and sometimes fatal for older workers.
How Employers Can Protect Older Workers
Employers must provide a safe workplace for all employees. There are various safety measures that they can take to help ensure the safety of older workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends:
- Clearing floors and walkways: This can reduce the number of slip and fall accidents that occur due to debris and other obstructions left in the walkway. Employers should also ensure that all surfaces are even and not slippery.
- Encouraging workers to take breaks and walk around: Maintaining a sedentary position can lead to injury. Workers should be encouraged to stand, stretch, and walk around.
- Making workplaces ergonomic: Providing comfortable workstations, and adequate lighting and equipment can reduce the number of workplace injuries. Many musculoskeletal injuries, sprains, and strains can be avoided by making workplaces ergonomic.
- Promoting flexibility and wellness: Flexibility on the job regarding scheduling, location, and tasks can create a safer work environment, according to NIOSH. Employees should also be encouraged to participate in wellness programs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Injured Older Workers
If you are age 55 or older and you were injured at work, contact a skilled Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We have over 35 years of experience representing all types of injured workers. To discuss your case, fill out our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
Conveniently located in Philadelphia, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.