Workplace fatalities disproportionately affect older workers
- As overall workplace fatalities decline, older workers are dying at work at a higher rate than any other age group, reports the Washington Post, citing an Associated Press (AP) analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) findings. About 35% of on-the-job fatalities in 2015 involved workers 55 or older. That's 1,681 out of 4,836 people.
- According to the Post, as the number of deaths dropped for all workers from 5,480 to 4,836 between 2005 and 2015, older workers' deaths rose from 1,562 to 1,681. During the same period, the number of older employees in the workplace increased by 37%, compared with 6% for all other employees.
- The AP examined how older workers died and how often between 2011 and 2015. It found that older workers died from falls (20% increase), coming in contact with equipment and objects (17% increase), transportation accidents (15% increase) and fires and explosions (8% decrease). Deaths from natural causes were excluded.
AP's analysis comes alongside reports that older workers are remaining in the workplace longer. A National Bureau of Economic Research study found that 9 million people over 65 still work. Some don't want to retire or just want to stay active. But many also must work because they don't have the savings for retirement.
Any work-related death is a tragedy, but it could also can mean liability for employers, who must report such incidents to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
Employers also must take care not to avoid hiring or retaining older workers in an effort to reduce their liability risk because of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects workers 40 and older. Instead, precautionary measures, like improved training, may be key.
- Washington Post Older people dying on job at higher rate than all workers