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August 14, 2017

Study Shows Workplace Deaths Rising Among Older Workers

This department has worked __ days without a lost time accident
A study conducted by the Associated Press shows older people are dying on the job at a higher rate than workers overall, even as the overall rate of workplace fatalities decreases. In 2015, about 35 percent of fatal workplace accidents involved a worker age 55 or older.

This is not exactly a new trend. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported fatal work injury rates for workers 55 years and older were higher than the overall U.S. rate in 2010, and the rate for workers 65 years of age and older was more than three times the rate for all workers. Between 2006 and 2015 the rate of fatal accidents among older workers was 50 to 65 percent higher than for all workers.

The percentage of older employees in the workplace has increased some 37 percent in recent years, and experts on aging caution against stereotyping older workers, because people of all ages have a wide range of physical and mental abilities. There are steps employers can take to help improve safety for older workers, but recent research also shows younger workers benefit from increased safety efforts, as well. So perhaps the best approach is an increased focus on occupational safety for all workers, which can include prominent machine safety signs and other safety reminders.

AP examined the number and types of accidents in which older workers died between 2011 and 2015:
  • Fall-related fatalities rose 20 percent
  • Contact with objects and equipment increased 17 percent
  • Transportation accidents increased 15 percent
  • Fires and explosions decreased by 8 percent
State-by-state accident rates for older workers vary widely. In most states, the fatal accident rates for older workers were consistently higher than comparable rates for all workers. Nevada, New Jersey and Washington had the greatest percent increase in fatal accident rates for older workers between 2006 and 2015. In two states, older worker accident rates decreased while the overall rate increased. The National Center for Productive Aging and Work is working to make workplaces safer for older workers. The year-old center is part of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

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