Protecting Older Workers

Health and safety are not excuses to avoid hiring older employees. Today, many older workers are part of the workforce. Older workers can bring experience, skill, and knowledge to the workplace. It is important to remember that, regardless of age, there is no difference in the required health and safety responsibilities of employees in the workplace. Risk assessment can be performed on employees as they become older, especially if the employee is experiencing any noticeable physical or mental changes. It is also important to consider the learning ability of each employee. For example, people who have had previous training, education, or experience on the job may be experienced learners who have the ability to learn new skills well. Other employees may not learn in the same manner. Based on assessments, the employer may allow more time for older employees to be trained or the employer might move the employee to a different job type. Employers and older employees should keep in mind that, generally, thinking and memory abilities may decrease after the approximate age of seventy, and, though they may have fewer accidents than younger workers, accidents involving older employees can be more harmful and can cause serious injuries. Older workers should speak to their employers if they have any concerns or issues with job performance. The workplace can help by providing a safe work environment and reducing the chance of injuries and illnesses through training, maintaining good working conditions, following safe work procedures, and completing risk assessment to prevent hazardous work conditions.