A recent report from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) shows that workers’ comp costs for injured workers aged 65 and older are generally lower than younger employees because older employees are paid less.
Although workers aged 65 and older make up a small share of employment and injury and illness cases – below 5 percent – the number of workers 65 and older has increased by nearly 50 percent since the late 1980s. The report estimates that the number of older workers is likely to increase due to the state of the economy. Many older employees must postpone their retirements and continue to work in the face of depleted life savings and reduced home values.
The report highlighted the following findings:
- The greatest cause of injury among older workers are falls, slips, and trips
- There are less claims for older workers in the more hazardous manufacturing and construction-related industries and occupations
- Claims are higher for older workers in the leisure and hospitality industry and food preparation
and service occupations, as well as sales and related occupations
The NCCI report found that the percentage of those aged 65 and older who were looking for work was 11 percent in 1990 and increased to 17 percent in 2008. In addition to many older workers not having the funds to be able to retire, many are healthier and able to continue to remain in the workforce longer.
As older workers age, they face challenges in the workplace such as a deterioration in eyesight, hearing, strength, flexibility, reaction time, and mental processes. Employers can reduce the risk of injury to older workers by enhancing lighting where necessary, installing slip-resistant flooring, providing handrails, and installing noise dampening materials where hearing may be an issue.