Key Takeaways

- A worker’s age has an impact on the injury rate. Safety concerns and issues are faced by both younger and older workforce age groups.

- Safety professionals should focus on intervention methods that will mitigate the hazardous influences encountered by all age groups.

- While workers age 65 and older have the second-lowest injury rate of all age groups, the older the workers, the more time they may need to spend away from work to recover from injuries and illnesses suffered at work.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC, n.d.), the total cost of work injuries in 2019 was an estimated $171 billion. This estimate includes wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses and employers’ uninsured costs. In that same year, an estimated 105 million workdays were lost due to injuries (NSC, n.d.). This report does not provide any specific details or any characteristics about the injured. However, knowledge of certain characteristics of the injured such as age can be critical information. This type of information could be useful in the development of workplace hazard prevention and mitigation programs.

Much has been written about the “silver tsunami” and the aging workforce. The term “older worker,” as defined by the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, refers to anyone age 40 and older (U.S. Department of Labor, n.d.-a). Some believe that as the workforce continues to age, so does the need for OSH professionals and their organizations to work creatively to redesign jobs and work processes to accommodate older workers (Freeman, 2004). The CDC (2015) provides a great deal of resources that address safety and injury prevention for the aging workforce. But at the same time, CDC (2019) reports that young workers have high rates of job-related injuries. Workers’ demographics and characteristics are some factors that should be considered when implementing safety programs. A mixed-methods analysis study of statistical data, scholarly articles and online sources was conducted to review the dearth of information available on age, injury rates and workplace safety to determine whether a worker’s age has an impact on injury rates and, if so, how OSH professionals can modify safety programs to address it.

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