Older Australians play an important role in the workforce. They can contribute extensive knowledge, skills and experience. With increasing workforce participation of older workers and delayed retirement age, employers need to ensure they are supporting the needs of this demographic.
With an increase in age, there are a number of physiological and psychological changes that need to be taken into consideration. Some of these include:
According to Safe Work Australia, older workers are not any more likely to experience an injury or illness at work but when they do it is more likely to be serious or result in a fatality. When older workers are injured, recovery times are often longer. As a person ages, their ability to recover and return to their full duties may be complicated by other health concerns. These barriers do not mean that an individual cannot recover from an injury, just that it may take longer.
There are a number of ways in which you can help your ageing workforce:
Organisations that take the time to support the health and safety of older workers experience a range of positive results, including higher levels of job satisfaction, decreased absenteeism and turnover, and increased engagement amongst older workers. These benefits also extend across the broader workforce. (Work Safe QLD).
Age discrimination directly occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of their age, when someone from a different age group would be treated differently in the same situation. It can also indirectly occur when there is a rule or policy in a workplace which may have an unfair effect on a particular age group.
There can be many benefits to an ageing workforce including an increase in knowledge and experience in the field. To avoid age discrimination in your workplace, identify and address any policies that may contain discrimination towards a particular age group as well as aim to remove any bias from the hiring process to ensure it is fair and equitable.
Early intervention and prevention is the key to effectively treating injuries in an ageing workforce. By having an onsite healthcare provider, you can regularly check in with workers in these age brackets and provide early intervention injury management as well as tailored strengthening programs if needed.
An onsite provider can regularly assess the tasks being completed by these workers and can provide individual feedback and changes that can be made to reduce the risk of injury.
For further information or advice about how to manage an ageing workforce in your workplace, contact Work Healthy Australia.
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