Protecting Older Workers – a Valuable Asset in Construction

During the last two decades the average age of an American worker has increased by almost three years from 39.3 to 42, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This trend is even more apparent in the blue-collar industry with plumbers, electricians, and miners working well into their 40s, construction workers at 42.5 years and truck drivers at 48 years of age. A great amount of knowledge and experience accompany those who are older, but the risk of injury also increases with age.

Tough guys

American Cranes & Transport Magazine (ACT) recently visited this issue. Their article suggests that although most of these industries can inadvertently portray a “tough guy” image of their workers, injuries can be more serious for those who are older versus counterparts in their 20s and 30s and recovery take much longer. For example, research has shown that workers above age 50 are more likely to sustain fractures from common falls versus younger colleagues who only suffered bruises and sprains.

A high cost

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has determined the death rate for construction workers older than 55 years is 80 percent higher than those under 35 years. Additionally, the financial cost from a fall injury for workers over 45 can be triple that of those under age 30. The risk of pain medication addiction is also present.

Preserve this resource

An older work force is an asset to future generations because of their knowledge, experience, and commitment to the job. Since no age group is immune to injury, it’s important to remember these principles:

  • No single job fits all workers
  • Work quality is often more important than speed or quantity
  • Sufficient training promotes a safer workplace
  • Keep work areas clean and free of obstacles that can cause injuries

Finally, it’s important to have environments where older employees can utilize their knowledge and skills to provide meaningful work and contribute to the ongoing success of the company and industry.

Click here to read the entire story at ACT’s website. Image above courtesy of Pixabay.

June 7, 2022

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