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For older workers, occupational injuries can quickly turn fatal

| Dec 13, 2019 | Workplace Injuries

The traditional retirement age might be 65, but a significant number of workers are putting off retirement and staying on the job longer than ever before.

There are several reasons people are working past age 65, from simple enjoyment of their job to financial needs.

Every worker has the power to choose how long they work, but it is critical to note that work injuries pose a greater risk the longer workers stay on the job. This could, in turn, put workers, their families and dependents at risk as well.

Rate of work injuries decreases, but the risk of fatal injuries increases over time

Generally, the rate of nonfatal work injuries decreases as workers age, but the rate of fatal injuries spikes significantly.

According to CBS, the most recent data from 2015 revealed that 35% of fatal work injuries involved workers over 55. These statistics show that older workers are dying on the job more than workers of all ages.

This is primarily because of the natural physical changes aging can cause, including:

  • Loss of bone density;
  • Hardened arteries; and
  • Muscle atrophy.

Accidents with the overlay of these physiological changes can lead to much more serious injuries, compared to the same accident that the worker could have experienced at a younger age. 

This is not to say that older individuals should not continue to work. As we mentioned before, workers have the privilege to choose whether or not they wish to work. But they must be aware of the risks they face if they do continue to work and take steps to prevent severe or fatal injuries.

How can older workers prevent fatal injuries?

Regardless of a worker’s age, they can still collect workers’ compensation for a nonfatal injury on the job. Their dependents can receive compensation after a fatal work accident as well (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment §9-683). This may be a comfort, but older workers must also take steps to avoid injuries if they wish to continue working.

It is helpful for workers to:

  • Maintain an exercise regime to sustain physical abilities;
  • Take breaks to rest when necessary; and
  • Speak with their employer about enhancing ergonomics in the workplace.

Older workers are just as capable as any other worker to remain in the workforce, but they must take the risk they face seriously to protect themselves and their families.

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