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Implications of an Aging Workforce: Work Injury, Recovery, Returning to Work and Remaining at Work

Free 1 Hour
The Canadian population aged 65 and over is expected to double over the next 25 years. The Canadian workforce is also ageing with the average age of workers predicted to continue to rise until 2031. However it is unclear whether Canadian companies have addressed the impact of an aging workforce on occupational health. Employers have questions about the implications for work injury, recovery, return to work and remaining at work.

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Findings from recent studies suggest age is not strongly associated with increased injury rates but is associated with longer return to work time once injured. Workplaces should consider strategies for healthy ageing to address an ageing workforce.

Take-home messages:

  • Older workers are not, on average, at greater risk of work-related injuries than their younger counterparts. However, if they do get hurt on the job, older workers tend, on average, to take longer to return to work.
  • Longer post-injury absences are not explained by older workers having more severe injuries or certain types of injuries, or by their working in more physically demanding jobs.
  • Longer absences post-injury are explained in part by the greater likelihood of older workers having pre-existing chronic conditions.
  • Workplace factors may explain the longer absences, including ageism.

Learning Outcomes

About the research on associations between age and work-related injuries as well as recovery from injury
That research points to programs and policies that are flexible in providing accommodation as needed and that support autonomy among workers
How the WHO World Report on Ageing and Health can provide guidance for workplaces

Speakers

Dwayne Van Eerd
Dwayne Van Eerd is an associate scientist at the Institute for Work & Health. He has both an MSc and BSc in kinesiology from the University of Waterloo and an MSc in health research methodology from McMaster University. Involved in clinical work from 1990 to 2010, Van Eerd has designed and implemented rehabilitation and ergonomic programs for injured workers. The focus of Van Eerd’s research since 1997 has been on the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. He is particularly interested in participatory approaches to hazard reduction in the workplace. Van Eerd also researches and practices integrated knowledge transfer and exchange.

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