Getting the best out of older workers

by on October 4, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

What should safety professionals be doing to get ready for an older workplace?

After all, as of 2011 the average worker turned 40, and in another decade (2020) one in five workers will be over 55.

Here are four steps you may want to take now, or soon, to keep your older workers satisfied and productive:

  • Adapt training. Older people have different learning needs. They’re likely to benefit from shorter training sessions, longer periods to complete diagnostic tests, and longer periods for study.
  • Watch lighting, noise traps. Poorly lit areas and background noise affect older workers more than others. Remember that lighting and noise may fluctuate during a work day, so check your work area several times to make sure you spot all the problems.
  • Target slip, trip hazards. As workers age, they tend to lift their legs less while walking. This shuffling makes them susceptible to small changes in elevation and other slip and trip hazards, so take extra care to remove these dangers as quickly as possible.
  • Ergo improvements. Recommend to your safety director ergonomically friendly physical arrangements for older employees. Workstations that suit younger workers may not be comfortable for older ones, because of the angles at which they’re expected to sit, type and use the phone.
  • Offer breaks. Older workers with decreasing physical flexibility may need more frequent “stand and stretch” breaks.

Source: “Working Longer,” by Rothwell, Sterns, et al. ISBN 978-0-8144-7392-4.

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