It may come as no surprise that it's becoming more and more common for workers to delay retirement and keep working past the traditional retirement age of 65. In fact, in the coming decades, we'll see more workers in their sixties, seventies and eighties than we ever have before. Without going into the details, there are a complex set of forces compelling people to work later in life. The question from an occupational safety in health standpoint, though, becomes if we'll have more older people working (which we know we will), how do we ensure that their job demands are suited to their physical abilities? How do we ensure safe and healthful working conditions for these (potentially) vulnerable workers?
It's likely that many of the methods to keep older workers safe and healthy are beneficial for younger workers as well. The Mountain & Plains ERC is working with its sister organization at the University of Washinton (the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety) to identify the best practices for designing "age friendly" workplaces that promote safe and healthful work throughout employees' lives. This project has been ongoing for several years. We have developed a two-day workshop, a train-the-trainer program and conducted several pilot tests. Our next steps are to work with health care organizations and stakeholders in the wholesale retail trade sector to design age friendly work environments.