Aging workers make up a growing part of the workforce, due in large part to uncertain economic conditions that put retirement plans in jeopardy. For others, working through retirement is simply a way to stay social or keep busy. Regardless, safety is key since aging workers are at greater risk for severe injuries in the workplace.
Have you suffered a workplace injury? Get the support you need with Reeves & Mestayer. Call us at 228-374-5151 to schedule a consultation.
Improve the Ergonomics of the Workplace
It’s important to protect aging workers from stress-related injuries, not just one-time accidents. Stress injuries occur as a result of repetitive work tasks, and aging workers are at significant risk of damage to their backs, wrists, and necks. To make your workplace more ergonomic, ensure that workers have access to ergonomic chairs, computer mice, keyboards, and other equipment. Providing or requiring supportive footwear can also help prevent stress injuries.
Identify Problem Areas
By looking back through work accident reports, you should be able to figure out which types of injuries are most prevalent among your aging employees. This gives you the information you need to implement safeguards. Keep an eye out for same-level falls. While falls from heights are dangerous for everyone, same-level falls tend to be far more dangerous for aging workers than they are for younger employees. They often occur because of spills, poorly maintained floors, improper footwear, or bad weather.
Eliminate Manual Lifts
Lifting is one of the most common causes of injuries for all employees, and the risk only increases as you age. If at all possible, consider eliminating manual lifting for aging employees. Mechanical lifts that bring items from the floor to a reasonable height make stocking and other tasks much easier for workers. Proper form is essential when lifting heavy items, but it’s also difficult to teach and enforce. Mechanical lifts eliminate the guesswork. If manual lifting is a job requirement, consider rotating lifting tasks among the staff so that the same people don’t get stuck with it every time.
Reduce Workload to an Appropriate Level
It’s important to look at the individual needs of each worker, rather than expecting everyone to perform the exact same tasks. At a certain age, some employees may not be able to do quite as much as younger workers. Rather than penalizing them and putting pressure on them to work faster, which can put them at greater risk for injuries, ensure that each individual has work goals that are appropriate for their capabilities.
Focus on Team Productivity, Rather Than Individual Productivity
In line with the last point, consider focusing on how each team functions. If each team has the same group of tasks to complete and the freedom to decide who completes those tasks, there is less pressure on aging workers to do things that are dangerous or unhealthy for them. Of course, this requires a healthy work environment where coworkers are interested in protecting each other and fostering a safe work environment. If this setup is not possible, rotating tasks that challenge your older workers can lessen the amount of time they spend on those tasks, keeping them safer from injuries.
Talk to Your Employees
To figure out which changes would make your workplace safer for workers, give your employees the chance to speak up. It’s especially important that your aging employees give input about which tasks are too dangerous for them, any pressure they feel to work at an unsafe pace, or other issues that make it difficult for them to do their job. Setting up a workplace safety committee or focus group may provide the insight you need to make work a safer place for everyone.
Turn to Reeves & Mestayer for Help with Your Workplace Injury Claim
If you or someone you love has been injured at work, it’s important to file for workers’ compensation promptly to avoid financial issues. Our team can help with your workers’ compensation claim and fight for the level of benefits you deserve. To learn more about how we can help you and plan your next step, call Reeves & Mestayer at 228-374-5151 or get in touch with us online.