Many workplaces have an older workforce due to the number of baby boomers currently working there and the lack of younger employees being hired. Companies often have designed ergonomic interventions that allow all employees to perform their jobs more safely. A few companies have even designated a group of jobs specifically for an older workforce and modified those jobs with the physical limitations of the older workforce in mind. The problem is that many safety professionals are faced with a workforce that is aging in place. Some jobs can't easily be designed for employees who have more limited flexibility or strength or joint range of motion. Some jobs even with lift assist devices are still too high risk for employees who have more abdominal girth and less back flexibility.
One possible intervention is to improve the physical condition of the employees themselves, in addition to making ergonomic changes that are feasible. This can be done on a voluntary basis on company premises and on company time. Such interventions may be able to improve the individual's quality of life, reduce the risk of injury at work, and maybe improve productivity.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss L.L. Bean's approach to keeping warehouse employees working safely as they age. It will address some of the available research, discuss the elements of the program, identify the results and describe how this approach could be applied to other workplaces.