Preventing Workers Compensation Injuries in Older Workers
Getting older is a fact of life. And that, of course, applies to the workforce. In fact, by the year 2020, studies show that about 25 percent of the workforce in the United States will be comprised of older workers that are 55+ years of age.
Workers compensation attorneys suggest that there are some advantages that older workers enjoy over their younger counterparts. Such characteristics as experience, the ability to solve problems, maturity, cooperation with others, and the tendency to follow rules, regulations and safety protocols seem to increase with age.
It may surprise you to know that older workers are no more likely to become injured on the job than younger workers. In fact, statistically, they are just slightly less likely to sustain injuries. However, older workers do tend to take a longer time to recover and heal from an injury, especially when it comes to musculoskeletal injuries.
In this article the Workers Compensation attorneys at Cantrell Green discuss some effective ways older employees and their employers can protect aging workers from injuries.
Common Workers Compensation Injuries in Older Workers
One of the most common ailments affecting older workers is arthritis. Because of its unpredictability and the varying intensity from day to day, arthritis can pose a real challenge for employers, especially considering the fact that nearly half of workers who are 55 and older are affected by it.
However, similar to many conditions that affect older workers, arthritis can generally be managed. Many employers have adopted protocols and strategies that help older employees to remain on the job, working to their full potential.
Frequently, older workers seek non-standard working arrangements, such as temporary, part time or on call employment. The recent upsurge in app-based, freelance and gig workers has also provided additional opportunities for older workers. However, these nonstandard work arrangements are unpredictable in nature, especially with respect to the quantity of hours and variances in schedules. The unpredictability of these non-standard jobs can cause stress, and the stress can lead to an increase in the risk of injury.
How to Prevent Workers Compensation Injuries in Older Workers
Anything an employer can do to reduce stressors will improve overall health and well-being for all workers, and especially for those who are older.
In order to address the needs of a growing population of older workers, many employers are turning to a practice known as “productive aging.” Productive aging focuses on the positive aspects of growing older, while implementing systems designed to meet the needs of older workers. Practices such as instituting ergonomically appropriate work environments, providing generous return-to-work policies, and matching tasks to abilities are becoming more and more common in the marketplace. These procedures offer a safe and healthy environment for older workers who can then be more productive and less likely to become injured or disabled on the job.
There are a number of steps that workers compensation attorneys suggest to employers that can reduce injuries in mature workers, such as:
- Educate employees with respect to interventional procedures that are available to them, such as those relating to ergonomics, injury prevention, chronic disease management and workplace flexibility.
- Establish and strictly enforce anti age-related discrimination or harassment.
- Provide health insurance that covers workers with arthritis, and be sure workers are aware of it.
- Promote and provide workplace wellness programs that pertain to arthritis, diabetes and other chronic conditions.
- Be flexible in terms of breaks – a worker suffering from arthritis may need to apply an ice pack to a swollen joint at specific intervals during the day. Other workers may need time to eat a light snack when taking medications. Giving your employees reasonable time for self-care might alleviate their need to take days off work.
- Adapting the physical work environment to enhance safety and health will assist all of your employees, not just those with arthritis. For example, providing standing desk options, changing door knobs to door levers, and providing comfortable, adjustable chairs will benefit everyone.
Workers Compensation Attorneys for Older Workers
If you are an older worker who has been injured in the workplace, the attorneys at Cantrell Green are here to help. We understand the unique challenges faced by older workers and the laws that are available to protect you. We can help you work with your employer to ensure you are receiving the benefits to which you are entitled. If you live in Southern California, give us a call for a free consultation.