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How to Handle an Aging Workforce

Thu August 23, 2018 - National Edition
Emily Buenzle


Here are some tips from NIOSH to help make your worksite more age-friendly for these valued crew members.
Here are some tips from NIOSH to help make your worksite more age-friendly for these valued crew members.

There's no doubt about it: many industries across the nation are seeing an increase in aging workers. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, close to 20 percent of the country's workforce is over the age of 65—and by 2020 more than 25 percent of all workers will be older than 55, Safety + Health reported.

While these workers may be more experienced, any injuries they sustain on the job are often more serious and can take longer to heal, according to Safety + Health. In addition, older workers often must deal with ongoing health issues that demand monitoring and management. According to data from the National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH), arthritis and hypertension are the most common ailments that workers over age 55 face.

Here are some tips from NIOSH to help make your worksite more age-friendly for these valued crew members:

  • Be flexible. Allow older workers to have a say in their schedule, tasks and work conditions whenever you can.
  • Let them set the pace. Allow older workers to work at their own pace. In addition, avoid assign repetitive or prolonged sedentary jobs.
  • Train management. Ensure supervisors have received correct training on how to manage an aging workforce.
  • Pay attention to ergonomics. As so many of us know, proper ergonomics are everything. Ensure your older workers are comfortable by providing ergonomically correct work areas.
  • Be aware of hazards. Slip, fall and noise hazards are particularly dangerous for older workers, so make sure your worksite is safe from these issues.
  • Train older workers. Provide additional training to these employees to help them sharpen their skills and gain a greater understanding of new methods and technologies that may be introduced on your worksite.