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Protecting older workers in Minnesota workplaces

More and more, the number of employees aged 55 and older are increasing in workplaces around the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers of this age group represented nearly a fifth of the workforce in 2010, and by 2024, the amount could increase to a nearly 25 percent. Besides the fact people are living longer, the increase could be attributed to retirement financial worries.

With this increase, the danger for workplace injuries also rises . Older employees, especially those in the field of construction, are more prone to fatal falls and severe injuries to their back, truck, knees and shoulders. This occurs because their skills are diminishing, and their reflexes are slowing down. Then, when they are hurt, their recovery time is generally longer.

These circumstances are prompting researchers and safety professionals to find new ways to improve the workplace. A 2010 pilot study from the German auto manufacturer BMW showed that numerous ergonomic-based changes caused productivity to increase by 7 percent in a single year. Their employees also gave feedback about how to make the work environment more accommodating.

Other changes included the use of angled monitors and bigger computer screen typeface to decrease eyestrain, wooden floor installations to mitigate static electricity exposure and lessen knee strain and supplying employees with orthopedic footwear to lower foot strain. The manufacturer also set shift limits for employees doing the most physically strenuous work.

While older people are more likely to suffer an on-the-job injury compared with their younger counterparts, workplace injuries can still happen to employees of all age groups. Most injured workers are eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits, but they may want to have the assistance of an attorney when they are preparing their claims in order to ensure that they are complete and timely filed.

Source: Safety and Health, "Keeping aging workers safe", Kevin Druley, Dec. 20, 2016

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Law Office of David M. Bialke
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