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For Labor Day, ASSE Offers Tips on How to Increase Work Safety for Older Workers, Note Increase in Fatalities

Posted in , on Wed, Aug 29, 2012

DES PLAINES, IL (August 30, 2012) – With recent statistics showing workers in the 65 and older age group having the highest number of on-the-job deaths in the U.S. in 2010, and, with older workers (defined as those aged 55+ years) being the nation’s fastest growing segment of the working population, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urges employers to design workplaces with positive policies and programs to optimize the safety and health of older workers.

“ASSE is concerned about keeping all workers safe, including older workers. These statistics are alarming,” ASSE President Richard A. Pollock, CSP, said today. “We are also concerned that despite the down economy, on-the-job deaths are not decreasing, but instead have hit a plateau. We need to be proactive and move past the plateau of complacency. We urge employers and employees to act now.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show fatal work injury rates for workers 55 years and older were higher than the overall U.S. rate in 2010, and the rate for workers 65 years of age and older was more than three times the rate for all workers. The BLS projects that by 2020 one fourth of the workforce will be over age 55.

For Labor Day and to help employers design a safe workplace for older workers knowing there is no one-size-fits-all solution, ASSE is offering several safety tips here and in its Tips for Increasing Workplace Safety for Older Workers sheet available at ASSE member Winnie Ip, CPE, director of consulting at Humantech, Inc., of Ann Arbor, MI, in her article Optimizing and Designing for an Aging Population in the Workplace suggested taking a proactive approach to address some of the particular challenges older workers face by keeping in mind several tips.

Ip suggests ensuring regular health checks for shift workers over 40 along with annual eye exams for inspectors, and current eye exams and correct vision prescription for all workers. She also suggests for the workstation area to increase illumination by 20 percent, use task lighting to make low-contrast targets (defects) more visible, avoid using small print in instructions, orders, or on equipment — use 11-point font or larger, avoid using small laptop screens, connect the laptop to an external monitor, use LCD displays for reduced glare, use a 17 inch monitor or larger, if possible, increase monitor brightness and add color contrast, and place document holders and monitors at the same distance from the eyes. More can be found at and to for the ‘Designing for an Aging Population’ article.

NIOSH suggests employers utilize teams and teamwork strategies for aging-associated problem solving; require training for supervisors on skills related to managing an aging workforce; invest in training and building worker skills and competencies at all age levels; and, provide ergo-friendly work environments.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment.  ASSE’s 35,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members are committed to protecting people, property and the environment and manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. Go to, or for more information.

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Contact: Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413,

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