Sunday, November 26, 2006

United Kingdom: Delivering Healthier, Safer Workplaces for All Ages

Over one third (36.5%) of UK workers believe they will be unable to do their job at 60, according to the latest statistics, revealed in Hazards Magazine. The report--'Going strong'--shows that the great majority of employees have no significant health impediments to prevent them working up to 65, or beyond if they wish, yet poor health is the most common reason why people over 50 leave a job, with only half retiring early by choice. Hazards calls on employers to stop using bogus health and safety excuses to get rid of, or not employ older people, and start helping keep the ageing UK population in work and off benefits.

A special feature on older workers by editor Rory O’Neill spells out the measures necessary to deliver healthier workplaces for all, regardless of age. Among other things, the article points out that improving health and longevity mean the great majority of workers have no significant health impediments to prevent work up to the age of 65 and for many, where they wish, beyond, and that workplace health and safety considerations are not a valid reason to prevent older workers continuing in work.
Age management strategies must target “ageing” rather than just “older” workers. Planning occupational health interventions and devising job redesign or alternative work in good time, with policies looking at workers in the 45+ age group, will provide greater scope for creating suitable and healthy work transitions. Career structures should allow a shift to more suitable work, where necessary or desirable.
Among the topics explored in detail are:
  • workplace health, citing findings that “older workers do not have more accidents in the workplace.”
  • older women, older workers, which notes that the impact of work on the health and employability of older women workers is particularly neglected, so that strategies must be both age and gender sensitive to ensuring the “work ability” of older women workers.
  • safety rep's checklist
In addition, the article provides links to sources and websites pertaining to the issues discussed.

Sources: Hazards Magazine "Not dead yet" (No. 96, October-December, 2006); Trade Union Congress Press Release (November 24, 2006)

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