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Improving workplace safety for aging Louisiana workers

With the fact that people are living longer, the amount of older Americans in the workplace is increasing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, in 2015, nearly 23 percent of employees across the country were aged 55 and older, and the numbers could increase to almost 25 percent by 2024. With such an increase comes the need for safer workplaces.

As people age, they become more susceptible to fatal falls and serious injuries to their knees, shoulders, back and trunk. They also need more time to recover from their injuries. According to the 2014 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, injured construction workers aged 45 to 54 missed about 20 days of work, those aged 55 to 64 missed 21 days and workers 65 years of age and older missed 37 days.

Additional data shows that workers 45 to 54 years of age suffered musculoskeletal disorders at a rate of roughly 40 per 10,000 full-time employees, which is the highest rate of all age groups. While younger employees were more vulnerable to suffer hand and head injuries, older employees were most susceptible to knee, shoulder, back and truck injuries as well. The study also found that as workers age, they become more prone to suffer fatal injuries from falling.

Employers can reduce these risks by setting limits on jobs that are the most physically demanding. They can also improve workplace safety by installing wooden floors to lower knee strain, purchasing larger computer screens to lessen eyestrain and employing manual hoisting cranes to mitigate back strain.

When people suffer an occupational injury or illness, they may not be able to return to work for weeks or months while they recuperate. They may want to have a lawyer's assistance in seeking workers' compensation benefits that can help to ease the resulting financial burden.

Source: Safety and Health, "Keeping aging workers safe", Kevin Druley, Dec. 20, 2016

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