Authorities say there are now more older workers in the U.S. workforce than ever before. It is reported that many baby boomers nationwide, including in Colorado, choose to continue working past the typical retirement age. The government estimates that one in four workers will be older than 55 by 2024. Some find that fact disturbing, considering the higher rate of injured workers among the older employees in many industries.
There are those who believe that the benefits of having older employees are countless. Not only do most of them possess high skill levels and many years of valuable experience to pass on to younger workers, but they have also encountered just about every hazard their industries can present. For that reason, they can be utilized as trainers in both skill and safety capacities.
However, a Denver Health Department epidemiologist warns that the physical changes that occur as workers age make them likely to suffer more severe consequences when injured than what younger workers may experience in similar circumstances. Injuries that might be nonfatal to younger employees may kill older workers. Along with more brittle bones, arthritis and muscle problems, the changes also include deterioration of eyesight and hearing, slower responses and issues with balancing.
Reportedly, workers of 55 years and older accounted for approximately 35 percent of workplace fatalities nationwide in 2015. Although statistics apparently show that the overall rate of fatally injured workers of all ages has decreased in recent years, the percentage of older workers’ deaths has increased to a level at which it is said to be between 50 and 65 percent above the level for younger workers. Families of those who lost their lives on the job may find it comforting to know that the Colorado workers’ compensation system will provide benefits to cover end-of-life expenses and a portion of lost wages.
Source: claimsjournal.com, “Older Worker Fatalities Higher Than All Other Age Groups“, Maria Ines Zamudio, Michelle Minkoff, July 31, 2017