Meeting the challenges of an aging workforce

Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seattle, Washington
American Journal of Industrial Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.74). 04/2008; 51(4):269 - 280. DOI: 10.1002/ajim.20569
Source: PubMed


Demographic, labor market and economic forces are combining to produce increases in the number and percentage of U.S. workers 55 and older. In some ways these workers will be our most skilled and productive employees but in others the most vulnerable.Methods
The literature on aging and work was reviewed, including demographic trends, physical and cognitive changes, safety and performance, work ability, and retirement patterns.Results and Conclusions
Older workers have more serious, but less frequent, workplace injuries and illnesses than younger ones. There is evidence that many of these problems can be prevented and their consequences reduced by anticipating the physical and cognitive changes of age. Many employers are aware that such efforts are necessary, but most have not yet addressed them. There is a need for implementation and evaluative research of programs and policies with four dimensions: the work environment, work arrangements and work-life balance, health promotion and disease prevention, and social support. Employers who establish age-friendly workplaces that promote and support the work ability of employees as they age may gain in safety, productivity, competitiveness, and sustainable business practices. Am. J. Ind. Med. 51:269–280, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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    • "Together with longterm health problems and chronic diseases, prevalence of work-limiting disabilities increases with age [2]: it has been estimated that 72% of all-causes Disability-Adjusted Life Years occur in subjects under 60 years old and more than three-quarters of old workers have at least one chronic health condition that requires management [3] [4]. In addition, the majority of workers with chronic illnesses continue to work and have to deal with several workplace risk factors [5] [6]. "
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    • "Sukces wymaga chęci i umiejętności pracodawców do zagospodarowania potencjału starszych pracowników. Z dostępnych badań wynika , że starszy wiek jest uznawany za okres mniejszej wydajności, co może mieć najważniejsze znaczenie dla działań pracodawców wobec starszych pracowników lub kandydatów do pracy (Silverstein 2008). Negatywne opinie pracodawców mają wpływ na sytuację pracowników. "
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    • "This report also indicates an increased number of days away from work (an indicator of illness severity) in people above 35 years of age, and that people aged 45–54 have a higher incidence of workrelated injuries [42]. Since age is a risk factor, and since the average age of the American and international work force is rapidly increasing due to economic realities, more WMSD cases are predicted [19] [180] [196]. The Health and Safety Executive Health and Safety Laboratory has called for more work on the contribution of aging to WMSDs [100]. "
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