older workerIn recent years, the issue of the aging workforce in the U.S. has been a staple education session at safety and health meetings. So too this week at ASSE’s Safety 2013, which featured a session on, “So You’re Retired? Not So Fast - Attacking Injuries of an Aging Workforce.”

According to a recent AARP study, 70 percent of workers report they plan to work past retirement or never retire. Clearly, this trend presents safety issues: slower cognitive speed and decision making, decreased strength and agility, and slower recovery time. Solutions can include workstation design and task assignments that consider the effects of age.

According to AARP research, older workers want to be respected in the workplace, but also want a flexible work environment and the opportunity to use their skills. Most commonly selected essential elements of the ideal job include:

●A friendly work environment

●The chance to use skills and talents

●The chance to do something worthwhile

●Adequate paid time off

●A flexible schedule

●Good pension benefits

●On-the-job training

●A 401(k) plan

●The opportunity to gradually phase into retirement

Caregiving responsibilities impact job retention and are a concern for older workers, according to AARP. In the past five years, 17 percent of older workers have had to take leave of their job to care for an adult family member, while four percent had to quit their job.  One in five say they anticipate that they may need to take leave from their job in the next five years to do the same.

Why do older workers continue to wake up to that morning alarm clock? AARP research shows these factors play a role:

●Need the money (95%)

●Enjoy the job (92%)

●Save more for retirement (87%)

●Makes me feel useful (83%)

●To interact with people (80%)

●Pay for health costs self/family (78%)

●Gives me something to do (75%)

●Maintain health insurance (74%)

●Support other family (71%)

●Qualify for Social Security (68%)

●Fulfill pension requirements (60%)

The AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 highlights positive workplace practices for older workers:

●Employee and family medical insurance for both full- and part-time employees

●A defined contribution retirement plan

●Defined benefit pension plans

●Paid time off specifically designated for caregiving

●Flexible work schedules – flex time, compressed work weeks, telecommuting, job sharing, and formal phased-in retirement programs