Injury risks among older workers

The number of workers in Pennsylvania at or over the age of 55 is growing, and older workers are expected to make up about a quarter of the nation's workforce by 2022, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While more experienced workers are often a valuable asset, they also take longer to recover from injuries suffered in workplace. Most experts say that economic factors are preventing employees from retiring early, and the numbers are expected to increase sharply in the coming years as the baby boom generation ages.

According to government figures, older workers are injured or become sick on the job far less frequently than other age groups, which is largely attributed to their emotional stability and years of experience. Older workers are also more likely to speak up when they notice unsafe conditions and may refuse to perform their duties when they feel that the safety measures in place are inadequate.

However, the figures show that older workers are far more likely to be hurt in minor accidents such as trips and falls that their younger colleagues are often able to survive unscathed. It also takes them longer to recover from their injuries. Workers between 16 and 19 years of age lost an average of four workdays per year due to injury or illness in 2014, but that figure rose to 17 days for workers aged 65 or older. Older workers were also killed in on-the-job accidents in that year more than three times as often as the workforce as a whole, according to preliminary BLS data.

The growth in the number of older workers will likely lead to an increase in the number of workers' compensation claims. Some observers feel that this will lead to the program becoming more contentious as employers and their insurance companies struggle to cope with rising costs. Attorneys with workers' compensation experience could explain the grounds upon which employers often contest these claims and the kind of medical evidence that may establish that an injury or illness was work-related.

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