The percentage of older workers continues to rise as more and more Americans work past the traditional retirement age of 65. This also means that older workers are experiencing more and more serious workplace injuries. Many would argue that workers should just simply retire when they reach 65 to avoid the increased risk. However this isn’t financially feasible for many people. As the life expectancy is on the rise so is the amount of savings people need to fund their retirement. That forces many individuals to stay on the job longer than they would have in the past. 25% of Pennsylvania’s workforce are aged 55 or older.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers age 55 and older accounted for 36% of all fatally injured workers in 2016 even though that age group only made up 23% of the workforce that year. The 1,848 deaths of workers 55 and older in 2016 is the highest ever recorded for that age group since the reporting of this national data began in 1992. Even though younger workers have proportionately the same number of job accidents, they experience significantly lower death rates. The fatality rate for workers age 65 and older was 9.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers compared to 3.6 for younger workers.
Some of the reasons for older workers suffering serious even fatal injuries on the job include weaker bones and muscles, diminishing eyesight and hearing, slower reaction times, and a declining sense of balance making them a higher risk of falls.
Older workers are not only suffering significantly higher death rates, they also require more days to recover from work injuries which leads to more days off from work on average than younger workers.