Jacksonville, FL – According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of American workers age 55 and older grew from 28 million in 2008 to approximately 40 million in 2016, an increase of 43 percent. While much of the increase is attributable to aging baby boomers who remain within the workforce, the rate of growth will also continue to intensify due to many workers postponing retirement.
To help workers’ compensation professionals understand the impact the aging workforce will have on claims costs and outcomes, Kevin Glennon, RN, VP of Clinical Programs at One Call Care Management, delivered the session, “Understanding the Changing Needs of the Aging Injured Worker,” at both the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo and Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium, which were held concurrently, March 8–10 in Columbus, Ohio.
In his presentation, Glennon reviewed the effects of aging on workers and the potential impact it can have on their ability to perform their jobs safely.
“As employees stay in the workplace longer, their bodies undergo a natural aging and deterioration process,” said Glennon. “They may experience a loss of muscle, muscle weakness, balance problems, a compromised respiratory system, osteoporosis and eyesight issues—to name just a few age-related conditions. These factors put an already vulnerable group of workers at risk for injury.”
A report released by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) revealed that while older workers generally experience a lower rate of injury than their younger counterparts, when aged workers sustain injuries, the injuries are generally more severe, require more treatment and recovery time, and as a result, typically involve higher costs.
“There are significant benefits to retaining senior staff,” added Glennon. “These employees possess in-depth skills, experience and expertise; they’re loyal, have a strong work ethic and are highly productive. As such, many employers are striving to take proactive steps to keep their older workers healthy—by promoting safety, wellness and weight management.”
Rotator cuff and knee injuries are common injuries sustained by workers age 55 and older. These injuries can be difficult to recover from, but the effects of aging and potential comorbidities—like diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis—can further lengthen the recovery process.
“As workers age, there’s a higher chance that they’ll have one or more comorbid conditions,” said Glennon. “Workers’ comp programs must have practices in place to manage the injured workers’ condition as a whole. This will enable programs to identify comorbidities early, develop effective treatment plans, and facilitate a speedy recovery and return to work.”
Properly aligning an aging worker’s capabilities to job tasks is another strategy for safety. Employers should encourage communication. If a worker experiences a near fall or aches and pains while carrying out tasks, supervisors can make adjustments. For example, they may need to improve lighting, decrease the handling of heavy loads, or allow for more frequent breaks.
“When proactive strategies are utilized, everyone wins,” said Glennon. “Aging workers can remain productive longer and employers can benefit from their talent for years to come.”
Source: One Call Care Management
One Call is a WorkCompWire ad partner.
This is not a paid placement.