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How employers can protect older workers from workplace injuries

When one health care system on the east coast tried to assess why so many of their employees were filing workers' compensation claims, they discovered a trend. They found that many of their older nurses were struggling to move sick, heavy patients about. They noticed that these workers were the primarily filers of claims and that they frequently cited back injuries.

In getting to the root cause of worker injuries, the company has now been able to institute a new policy by which patients are supposed to be moved. Under that new protocol, older nurses, who think they might have some difficulty in moving a patient, can call upon "patient mobility team" to render assistance.

One of the directors of Boston College's Center on Aging says that it's important for employers to try to figure out what's causing workplace injuries if they want to gain traction in reducing them. She also notes that, as employees stay in the workforce longer, it's going to become even more important to come up with strategies to reduce work-related injuries among the aging population.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) forecasts that by 2024, at least 25 percent of all workers will be older adults. Those belonging to this age group are known to experience delayed response to stimuli, decreased vision and hearing and equilibrium issues. As a result, they're more prone to suffer from serious or fatal injuries on the job.

In order to minimize older employees' risk of workplace injuries, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that employers work to make workplaces more amenable for their older workers. One way they can accomplish that is by creating more ergonomic work stations including offering varied types of flooring, seating and lighting that may aid workers in performing work tasks.

They also note that older workers can be better accommodated by allowing them to work collaboratively with others. Having flexible schedules, which include carving out times for workers to attend much-needed doctor's appointments, can ensure older workers remain in optimal health. Encouraging all workers to remain active by instituting wellness programs can be an effective way to preserve workplace safety as well.

If you have been injured on the job and you're looking to file an injury claim, then an Omaha workers' compensation attorney can advise you of the many different legal options for doing just that.

Source: Insurance Journal, "How to protect older workers from injuries on the job," Maria Ines Zamudio, Aug. 02, 2017

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