Skip to content

Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


Focus Archive

Ageing workforces around the world

October 2007

As the number of young people entering employment falls in the coming years, there will be a significant increase in the proportion of older people in the workforce.

Employers will have to rely increasingly on ageing workers, and this could be to their advantage. Some studies show that older workers are more dedicated to the workplace, have fewer sickness absences and stay in jobs longer. The skills, experience and maturity of older workers generally outweigh potential problems such as increasing, age-related ill health.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has produced the following guidance:

Under the heading "The changing world of work - changes in the workforce" can be found research on the demographic changes that are occurring in Europe's workforce, while in the Agency's Risk Observatory, can be found a great deal of data that can be sorted by age. Practical information on protecting older workers is also available.

Older Workers in the USA - A critical challenge in public health during the next decade is how to ensure the safety and health of an ageing U.S. workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that between 2000 and 2015, the number of workers 55 years and older will increase by 72 percent - from 18.2 million to 31.2 million. This compares to a rate of only seven percent for workers between the ages of 16 to 54. Despite this unprecedented increase in the number of older workers, the National Institute of Occupational safety and Health (NIOSH) have only limited knowledge of the safety and health risks they will encounter. Research is needed to better understand the types of jobs and working conditions older workers experience, identify risk factors that may disproportionately affect these workers, and develop best practices and organizational-level interventions designed to improve the safety and health of older workers.

NIOSH has collaborated with the National Institute on Aging to solicit and fund occupational safety and health research on aging workers. NIOSH also is supporting a study by the Institute of Medicine to identify research gaps in our understanding of health and safety issues affecting older workers. NIOSH is analysing data and developing a chartbook documenting the safety and health needs of older workers. In addition, NIOSH is partnering with "Experience Works" an organization dedicated to serving the needs of ageing workers.

There are plenty of courses being offered in many countries worldwide. You may find some listed in OSHWORLD's Diary of Events that may help to focus on the type of training needed.