Federal law prohibits discriminating against employees because of their age. Employers, however, may notice that older baby boomers often take greater precautions when performing their tasks and work at a slower pace.
Previous work-related injuries or mistakes may result in an older employee carrying out his or her tasks more carefully. There could be an underlying preoccupation with avoiding errors and accidents. Older individuals also generally experience fewer on-the-job injuries than their younger co-workers do.
Remaining meticulous in exercising care and caution, however, may not always prevent a serious work-related injury. As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, when an older employee sustains a workplace injury, it is more likely to be severe. Older workers tend to have underlying health conditions; a minor accident could cause serious medical complications and require a lengthier recovery period.
Employers can take steps to prevent workplace injuries
Active senior workers should not find themselves shuffled off to sedentary or “backroom” tasks because of their age. Completing tasks while remaining sedentary could lead to an increase in work-related medical conditions.
An employer can, however, take steps to lower the health risks associated with normally assigned sedentary work. Providing ergonomic desks and workstations, for example, could help prevent back and neck injuries from developing.
Comfortable seating and regular “stand-up” time may help avoid injuries such as blood clots or muscle cramps. Short walks help increase circulation and blood flow for older workers who would otherwise spend a great deal of time seated. Overall, self-paced work activities could help lower the risk of job-related injuries for older employees.
All employees have a right to workers’ compensation
An injured employee has a legal right to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of his or her age. Because workers’ comp is a no-fault claim, an employee does not need to prove that a preexisting medical condition was not the cause of his or her injury. When work-related injuries occur, employees may apply for workers’ compensation regardless of their age or underlying health conditions.