The number of older workers is increasing in Pennsylvania and around the country. More people are choosing to stay in the workforce for longer periods of time because of financial needs and longer life expectancies. The increased proportion of older workers means that employers should take care to ensure they are safe on the job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19 percent of workers in 2010 were ages 55 and older. In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 22.6 percent of workers were in that age group, and the percentage is expected to reach 24.8 percent by 2024.
Older construction workers in particular have increased risks of injury. A study that was completed in 2012 by the Center for Construction Research and Training found that older construction workers tend to be hesitant to switch to less labor-intensive positions for fear of having reduced incomes and fewer benefits. When construction workers 65 and older are injured, they spend an average of 37 days away from work because of the added recovery time needs, according to the 2014 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Those ages 55 to 64 averaged 21 days away from work. By comparison, the median days away from work due to injuries across all industries was 17 for people at or over age 65 and 15 for those 55 to 64.
Employers should take the time to consider their workplaces and the potential safety issues that older employees may face. They should then take corrective action in order to make their workplaces safer. Regardless of all precautions, however, on-the-job accidents will continue to occur, and those who have been harmed as a result may want to meet with a workers’ compensation attorney to see what benefits they might be entitled to claim.