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Do older workers face higher injury risks?

At any age, workers can get hurt on the job. However, you may find yourself wondering what type of statistical impact age has. Do older workers face higher risks than younger workers, or is it the other way around?

While you could make a logical argument either way, the reality is not so simple. It all depends on what you mean by "risk."

Fewer incidents

If risk means the odds that a worker will get hurt on the job, then it is lower for older workers. They end up involved in fewer incidents that result in injuries, when compared to their younger counterparts.

The reason for this is, to a large degree, that they have so much experience. Perhaps they made mistakes or miscalculated risks when they were younger. They got hurt as a result, but they learned from it. They don't make those same mistakes again in the future.

They also grow more comfortable on the job over time. They develop new skills and abilities. Even if they don't suffer injuries when they're younger, the odds of getting hurt drop over time.

Worse outcomes

The flip side to this, however, is that older workers who do get hurt face higher risks of serious injuries and even fatalities. Their healing and recovery times increase. When they hit 60 years old, the risks of a fatal incident go up considerably.

Much of this has to do with natural human frailty. Young people can often live through injuries that prove fatal for older people. We often see the same trends when looking at car accidents. Traumatic injuries may not happen as often on the job, but the outcomes can be far worse when they do.

So, if risk means the risk of a fatality or a serious injury, then older workers do face higher risks. It all depends on how you define it.

Company obligations

Naturally, companies need to consider injury risks carefully. They need to give young workers proper training so that they can avoid mistakes and injuries. They need to match workers and their physical abilities to the specific jobs; for instance, older workers should not have to lift heavy loads or do other demanding physical tasks, in some cases, when younger workers could perform those tasks. Regardless of age, all workers need proper protective gear and a safe workplace environment.

Your options

As you can see, workers at all ages face serious risks, even if these risks are not exactly the same. If you get hurt on the job, make sure you know exactly what options and rights you have.

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