Why older workers are killed on the job more than younger ones

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2017 | Workers' Compensation, Wrongful Death |

In an era in which fewer workers are able to retire as young as they once were able to do, the American job market finds itself with an abundance of workers continuing to stay on their jobs past the age of 65.

Recent statistics published by the Department of Labor (DOL) suggest that this trend is expected to continue. By 2024, it’s estimated that at least 25 percent of the country’s workforce will be age 65 and older.

The increase in the age of workers has put increased pressure on employers. That’s because, as one epidemiologist puts it, the more advanced in age the employee, the higher the risk they have of suffering a potentially fatal workplace injury.

In fact, according to one DOL estimation from 2015, some 35 percent of all workplace accidents that resulted in the employee’s death involved someone age 55 or older. As for what makes this population at higher risk of injury or death, one gerontologist attributes it to a reduction in responsiveness, a decrease in visual acuity or ability to hear, and reduced flexibility, mobility, and balance.

One study that was conducted between 2006 and 2015 showed that all workers experienced an overall decrease in workplace fatalities by as much as 22 percent. However, during that same time frame, older workers experienced an increase in workplace fatalities by as much as 50 to 65 percent

A researcher at Columbia University’s Center on Aging notes that we shouldn’t take these statistics to mean that older people shouldn’t be allowed to hold certain positions, because each person has their own abilities. She does note, however, that we should use these statistics to better train workers of all age groups to be safer on the job.

Among the most common types of accidents that the DOL determined resulted in older workers’ deaths in 2015, falls accounted for 20 percent. A worker making fatal contact with either heavy equipment or other objects followed closely behind at 17 percent. Traffic-related accidents accounted for 15 percent, and explosions resulting in fires accounted for eight.

If a loved one has been killed in a fatal workplace accident, you may benefit from discussing your case with an experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorney who can advise you about your rights to file a claim.

Source: WSB Radio, “Older adults dying on job at higher rate at higher rate than all workers,” Maria Ines Zamudio, Aug. 02, 2017