The number of older employees in American workplaces is growing. This factor makes it even more important for employers to pay attention to workplace injuries. As employees age, their physical capabilities change. Such changes, which are usually normal with age or caused by chronic illnesses, play a major part in how employees respond to hazards in the workplace. Workers compensation, medical costs and productivity are all issues employers must consider. The number of older workers is expected to grow in the future, so this is not an issue that will simply resolve itself. Many people are still recovering from the recession of 2008, so a large number of older workers have been forced to stay in the workplace longer to beef up their retirement savings.
Although the number of older employees in the workplace is expected to rise significantly, most employers are not prepared for increased safety risks. Keep in mind that many older workers are less likely to experience workplace injuries, but they usually require much longer recovery times. When an injury keeps an older employee out of work, he or she may consume more workers compensation benefits and require more medical care. There may also be medication costs and fees for recovery aids. For this reason, it is important for all employers to know what percentage of their workforce is older than 55.
Another issue to consider is that older workers may be working well past retirement age. For example, in the past, a worker who was 60 may plan to work another three to five years. However, employees today may plan to work until they are in their 70s. Keep in mind that the average lifespan is longer, and the aging baby boomers seem to be in better general health than previous generations. Longer lifespans mean longer work periods to save up for retirement. As people continue to recover from the recession, many will need to work longer than they planned to have enough to live on after retirement. In addition to this, the cost of medical care continues rising at record rates. The uncertainty brought about by the financial crisis and rising medical costs also made older workers think about saving much more than they originally planned, so employers should not expect to see their aging workforce retiring soon.
To reduce the risk of costly injuries, employers must provide older workers with jobs and tools that reduce injury risks. Slip-resistant flooring, better lighting and chronic illness management programs are just a few suggestions that contribute to safer workplaces. In addition to benefiting older workers, these changes are also helpful for younger employees. If employers lose their seasoned workers, they are not only losing employees. They are also losing the skills those workers had. For example, a bakery that loses a seasoned baker may have to hire a new inexperienced employee. Employers should make necessary changes to ensure their seasoned workers can stay on the job as long as they are able. To learn more about ample coverage and better workplace safety measures, discuss these issues with an agent.