Senior citizens have a higher rate of workplace deaths
More likely to get injured + less likely to survive the accident
What a drag it is getting old, as the Beatles sang. For senior citizens in the workforce, aging is not just a drag but a job hazard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the overall death rate for workers over the age of 65 compares with fatalities for electricians and other dangerous jobs.
More people are working beyond age 65, whether they still enjoy working or can’t afford to retire. By 2024, one-fourth of all workers will be 55 and up. That may translate to more workplace injuries and work-related fatalities among older employees, without steps to address specific risks those aging workers face.
Growing old is a workplace hazard?
Why are workplace death rates higher for senior citizens? One factor is simply the decline of physical abilities – eyesight, strength, balance, reflexes – that might prevent or mitigate on-the-job accidents. Also, when accidents do occur, seniors are less able to sustain severe injuries.
For example, seniors are more like to die from a slip-and-fall accident, while a younger person might survive a similar trauma. And so on. Other causes of work-related deaths among over-65 employees include motor vehicle accidents on the job, heart attacks, machinery accidents, toxic exposures, and fires and explosions.
The over-65 death rate is 9.4 per 100,000 workers, which is three times as high as the average for workers in the their 20’s and 30’s. It’s just short of the job fatality rate for risky jobs like construction.
Older workers also take longer, on average, to recover from non-fatal injuries. That translates to more medical services and more lost work days. Perhaps those additional costs to employers and insurers will drive positive changes to make work safer for older employees.
Family members (spouse and dependent children) are entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits when an employee dies on the job or dies from a work-induced condition. Many senior citizens have pre-existing medical conditions or may be more vulnerable to complications of surgery after a workplace accident. Consult a workers’ comp attorney if there is any resistance to the claim for survivors’ benefits.