Protecting our older workers from injury
If you’re in the position of managing other people at work, you may already be feeling the pressure of an ageing workforce. Why? Put simply, we are living longer, we are working longer and the risk of injury increases as we age. Unfortunately the challenges associated with an ageing workforce aren’t going away, and are actually expected to intensify as the years go on.
The flipside of living longer
Life expectancy of a girl born in 2012 is projected to be more than 94 years, and boys are expected to live until 92 — that’s a lot of savings needed to retire on! Consequently, retirement age is likely to increase — by 2035 people will probably work until they’re 70.
An ageing workforce presents a significant risk. According to Safe Work Australia, there is a 180% increase in the number of manual handling incidents between your 20s and your 50s. One Move 4 Life customer describes what they call a “tsunami of claims” in the coming years because, for them, there is a 300% higher risk of injury for those older than 45 years.
Living longer shouldn’t be the sole goal
There is no doubt that we are working out clever ways of living longer ... but we are also living sicker. Rather than simply focusing on increasing our lifespans, we perhaps should also work to ensure that people are healthy and active for as long as possible. Perhaps we should focus on increasing our ‘healthspan’.
Healthspan is defined as the span of your life where you are healthy and free of chronic injury. Summarised nicely by James Hewitt from Hinsta Performance in his article ‘How to grow old like an athlete’, the goal should be to optimise the percentage of your living years in this space, and not in sickness.
How do you increase healthspan?
‘Confronting issues associated with an ageing workforce’ is the name of the session being presented by Terry Wong at the upcoming SAFETYconnect 2017 conference and exhibition at Rosehill Gardens, Sydney, from 16–17 August. Come along to Wong’s presentation to discover an educational and entertaining session that will seek to uncover some of the secrets about ageing well, how we might go about optimising healthspan and the latest thinking and practical takeaways about how to build the physical resilience of an ageing workforce.
Originally published here.
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