Atlanta Worker’s Compensation Attorneys Warn That Older Workers Are More Susceptible To Dying On The Job

According to Foxnews Business and the Associated Press, older workers are dying on the job more frequently than all other age demographics even though the overall on-the-job death rates are declining nationwide. As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, many choose to remain employed despite attaining the age of retirement. Consequently, employers must take appropriate measures to protect older employees from health and safety risks that might not necessarily imperil younger workers.

It is not easy getting old but the financial reality for many people today is that they are not able to retire. Therefore, people need to continue to work to pay mortgages, rent, put food on the table, and pay for utilities and all of the other necessaries we need in our daily lives, including health care coverage. Life is expensive and people are getting older in the workforce. Estimates indicate that by 2024, workers 55 and older will account for one-quarter of the entire working population.

Older workers increase the likelihood of suffering a severe or fatal injury at work solely due to age. As people age, eye sight worsens, hearing becomes impaired, we think more slowly thereby reducing our reflexes and reaction times. Also, older people develop balance issues exposing the older workers to a potential fall. Chronic health problems, along with muscle and bone loss dramatically increase the chance of injury or death on the job. Statistical analysis bears this out. It is important to note that the statistics do not account for workers who succumbed to natural causes such as heart attack or stroke. Nationally in 2015, older workers accounted for 35 percent of all workplace deaths. For purposes of these statistics, an “older worker” is one who has attained the age of 55. Even at 55, that is still 10 years away from the customary retirement age.

Georgia’s older workers were safer than the national average, but only by a slim margin. In 2015, there were 180 workplace fatalities in Georgia. Twenty-nine percent, or 52 people, aged 55 and older, died in work-related accidents. However, 34 of those were aged 55-64 and 18 were 65 or older. Deaths rose in 2015 from 2014. In 2014, 152 people died in work-related incidents. Twenty-nine of those killed were aged 55-64 and ten were 65 or older.

Experts say that employers must address the need to protect older workers from harm. However, older workers might not need more protection as an isolated population if safety standards increased for every worker. Even still, older workers would benefit from increased safety standards especially as the percentage of older workers comprises a more significant component of the employed population.

There are four areas of risk for which an older worker could benefit from having additional protection. Those areas are:

  • Risk of falling,
  • Hitting or being struck by an object or piece of equipment,
  • Motor vehicle accidents, and
  • Fires or explosions.

Anecdotally, older workers say that their jobs are harder now than they were when they were younger. This is true of jobs that require some physical activity rather than a desk or professional job.

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