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Safety matters for an aging workforce

While experience can come with age, Oklahoma employers must also consider the challenges of hiring elderly workers for certain types of tasks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 25 percent of the workforce will be at least 55 years of age in 2024. As people continue to work during their golden years, they certainly bring the benefit of experience to the table.

Although experience is beneficial, an older worker can be more seriously affected by a workplace injury. The time needed to heal tends to be greater for older employees, which can lead to greater costs and more lost work days. Statistics show that the average lost days of work for construction employees at or over the age of 65 is nearly twice the average for people between 45 and 54 years of age. When all industries are considered, there is a smaller difference between age groups in lost days because of injuries. However, the average time lost is still greatest in the oldest group of workers.

Fatality accidents related to falls are a great concern among all age groups, and these are also most significant among elderly workers. More than 27 percent of fall-related deaths on the job occurred among workers of at least 65 years of age in 2014. Employers might get ideas from companies that have successfully implemented safety strategies that allow elderly employees to continue working as their changing physical needs are carefully addressed. Examples include rotating workers from strenuous tasks to less strenuous activities during the work day to minimize risks and fatigue.

Employees attempting to make obtain workers' compensation benefits for an accident on the job might find legal help appropriate if their employers attempt to deprive them of their rights. Issues such as threats of firing or other negative consequences for filing a workers' compensation claim are examples of situations that might warrant legal assistance.

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