Friday, April 29, 2011

CDC Publishes Study on Older Workers Injuries and Illnesses at Work

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published "Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Among Older Workers---United States, 2009" in which it reports that, although older workers had similar or lower rates for all injuries and illnesses combined compared with younger workers, the length of absence from work increased steadily with age and was highest for older workers.

CDC undertook the examination as older workers (defined as those aged ≥55 years) represented 19% of the U.S. workforce in 2009 and are the United States's fastest growing segment of the working population. Overall, there were medians of 11 and 12 days of absence from work for workers aged 55-64 years and 65 years and older, respectively.
Older workers had higher rates of falls on the same level, fractures, and hip injuries compared with younger workers and workers of all ages. Public health and research agencies should conduct research to better understand the overall burden of occupational injuries and illnesses on older workers, aging-associated risks, and effective prevention strategies. Employers and others should take steps to address specific risks for older workers such as falls (e.g., by ensuring floor surfaces are clean, dry, well-lit, and free from tripping hazards).
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (April 29, 2011)

Ford Designs Ergonomic Workstation To Ease Work for Older Workers

An aging population in Europe and increases in retirement ages in some countries led Ford to put together a team of occupational physicians, production specialists, labor groups and representatives for disabled employees to improve the ergonomics, safety and productivity on the assembly line. A result of this effort has been the creation of an advanced ergonomic work station--the "Happy Seat"--that reduces chronic injuries and lower health costs.

According to Martin Chapman, operations plant manager in Cologne factory, where Ford produces the Fiesta:
Employees just push themselves back and forth and the chair swings in and out of the cabin--very simply and not requiring much physical effort. And the back feels fine, allowing employees to remain in employment longer to the benefit of Ford--ideally until they reach the age of retirement, the age of which many European governments have raised only recently.
Other measures employed by Ford to ensure production line workers’ health include movable platforms to raise vehicle chassis to different heights at various workstations, preventing excessive stretching and bending by employees; virtual software programs to design the most ergonomic production processes possible; and Santos, a computerised avatar that performs actions in the virtual world to help Ford improve quality, safety and ergonomics for its assembly line employees.

Source: Press Release Ford Motor Co. (April 26, 2011)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Colorado: Demographics Catching Up on State Working Population

Elizabeth Garner, Colorado's state demographer, is quoting saying that Colorado has been living in a dream that is soon going to end, and that the state is about to lose the "demographic dividend" it has had for several years--a relatively young population that has provided a healthy, productive workforce. According to an article by Emery Cowan in the Durango Herald, spoke at a conference of the Economic Development Council of Colorado.
"Now we’re going to shift out of that," she said, and the state needs to adapt. "We need to be strategic, we need to be making some really good choices because we don’t have that dividend anymore. We’re done with that comparative advantage we’ve had for 30 years."
Among other things, by 2030, the state’s population of people age 65 and older will be 150% larger than 2010, and about 1 million workers will be aging out of the labor force.

To see Colorado's labor force participation by age and gender and other parameters, go to State Demography .Office

Source: Durango Herald "Aging population in Colorado to change the face of workforce" (April 21, 2011)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Norway: Centre for Senior Policy to Hold Book Launch Covering 2010's Conference on Older Workers in a Sustainable Society

Norway's Centre for Senior Policy (Senter for seniorpolitikk) is holing a book launch on May 5 for Older Workers in a Sustainable Society, edited by Richard Ennals and Robert H Salomon. The launch will include comments by the Centre's director director Kari Østerud about the challenges and opportunities for older workers in Norway and by Liv Tørres political adviser in the Ministry of Labour, who will speak about Norway's position before the European Year of Active Ageing in 2012.

Ennals and Salomon's book follows on from the conference sponsored by the Centre in 2010. The three-day conference ("Older Workers in a Sustainable Society: Great Needs and Great Potentials") heard from speakers from several countries about the potentials of older workers, both individually and as an important part of societies' work force.

The conference was designed to put a different perception on the agenda; older workers as experienced and mature, a valuable source of talent, skills and knowledge, and ready, willing and able to work. It explored the social and economic potential in an ageing society and addressed the question of research contribution to employment of older workers. Among other topics, the conference had sessions and workshops on older workers work performance, productivity and quality; reducing age discrimination in working life; the work environment and older workers; and lifelong learning and competence at work. Presentations and abstracts from the conference are available on the web.

Source: Senter for seniorpolitikk Calendar of Events (May 5, 2011)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Survey Finds Older Workers More Likey To Be Bullied at Work

According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder which showed that 27%t of workers reported they have felt bullied in the workplace with the majority neither confronting nor reporting the bully, workers age 55 or older, and workers age 24 or younger were among the gender and age-based segments more likely than others to report feeling bullied.

Specifically, 29% of workers age 55 or older and 29% of workers age 24 or younger reported they had been bullied on the job. In contrast, workers age 35 to 44 were the least likely to report feeling bullied at 25%.
Although bullies can be intimidating, nearly half of workers (47 percent) said they confronted the bully about his/her actions. Of these workers, 43 percent said the bullying stopped, 13 percent reported the bullying became worse while 44 percent said the bullying stayed the same.
Source: Press Release (April 20, 2011)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

United Kingdom Poll Finds Ageist Attitudes among Younger Workers

A poll conducted by Anchor Trust reports 41% of Britons aged 18-24 years saying there aren’t enough jobs for older people to be in work and 14% claiming older people should retire to make way for younger blood. Even though the United Kingdom's default retirement age of 65 has ended, Anchor reports that as far as young people are concerned, one hits the old age mark at age 62. In response, Anchor Trust is launching a "Grey Pride" petition drive calling on the British Government to follow the lead of Ireland and Canada and have a dedicated older people’s minister to champion the over-60's.

Anchor's poll also found that 21% of those polled believe the over 60s are slower and are less productive than their junior counterparts, and 5% claim they should be paid less because they work at a slower pace. In addition, 18% of young Britons call over-60s grumpy and 21% say they they are out of touch with modern society.
Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive of Anchor, said: “Casual ageism has no place in society and these results bear no reality to the lives of the over 60s in England today who are active, energetic and contribute hugely to many of the most successful businesses and organisations in the country. The dismissive attitudes highlighted by Anchor’s research towards the over 60s are a sad indictment of attitudes in England."
Source: Anchor Trust News Release (April 19, 2011)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hays Study Calls for Global Government Response to Looming Unemployment

Hays plc, a global recruiting firm, in partnership with economic forecaster Oxford Economics, has called on governments and industries across the world to take joint action to tackle the looming threat of increased global unemployment as the world's working population is set to increase dramatically--by 1 billion in next 20 years. However, that growth will be uneven, as all of this growth will be developing economies; the developed world will see its workforce shrink and age.

Accordingly, in "Creating Jobs in a Global Economy 2011-2030" (or click here for PDF), Hays proposes a five-point plan to avert future labor crises as significantly more people are set to join the global labor force.
  1. Keep national borders open for the movement of skilled labour.
  2. Agree an international code to facilitate employee migration.
  3. Invest in training and education.
  4. Create employment opportunities in the developing world.
  5. Retain older people in the workplace.
With respect to the fifth point that should be the basis of further discussion by world and business leaders, Hays says:
Over the next 20 years developed economies will become increasingly reliant on the contribution from workers aged 60 or more. Many countries such as Britain have already passed anti-discrimination legislation to enable older people to stay at work and remain productive, but there is more to be done both in terms of maintaining the skills of an aging workforce as well as providing opportunities for these workers.
In this regard, the report notes that data "suggest older workers exhibit a number of different labour market characteristics from younger ones:
  • They have a greater tendency to be self-employed and a lower tendency to be employees.
  • The distribution of older workers across industries differs from the rest of the workforce.
  • They have a greater tendency to be part-time or work on temporary contracts than other workers.
  • Older workers tend to remain with an employer for longer periods of time than other workers.
  • Involuntary separations are lower for older workers than younger ones.
  • If older workers become unemployed, they tend to remain jobless for longer durations than other workers.
Accordingly, Hays recommends "examining each of these phenomena in detail as they contain different lessons for employers seeking to get the most out of their available staff."

Source: Hays plc Press Release (April 12, 2011)

Research Study Finds Older Workers Health Benefits from Wellness Coaching

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have found that older workers benefit most from a modest health behavior program when it combines a web-based risk assessment with personal coaching. The Cost-Effective Health Promotion for Older Workers study was led by Susan Hughes, professor of community health sciences, co-director of the UIC Center for Research on Health and Aging at the Institute for Health Research and Policy.

According to Hughes, the health behaviors that were examined were physical activity, diet, stress reduction and smoking cessation, and 95% of workers aged 40-68 participating in the study used a Web-based risk assessment when theere was personal coaching support, but only 59% did so when there was no personal support. Hughes and her co-researchers have published the results of the study in the May 2011 issue of American Journal of Public Health: "Comparison of Two Health-Promotion Programs for Older Workers."

An interview with Hughes is also available online.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago News Release (April 14, 2011)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Canada: Apparel Industry Confronts Aging Workforce

The Canadian Apparel Human Resources Council (AHRC) has released the findings and recommendations concerning the aging of both management and staffing in the apparel industry.

Among the issues discussed in "Pressing ahead: Canada’s transforming apparel industry," the apparel industry has to deal with a lack of succession plans for small businesses with aging owners and a looming shortage of production workers many of whom are nearing retirement age--7,000 of these workers could retire soon and that there are virtually no sources of supply for new production workers.

Sources: Apparel Human Resources Council Press Release (March 31, 2011); Montreal Gazette "Apparel companies face labour hurdles" (March 31, 2011)

United Kingdom: Government Paper Calls for Examining Future State Pension Age Increases

During the same week that the United Kingdom's law removing the default retirement age that had allowed companies to force workers to leave at 65 went into effect, the Department for Work and Pensions released a consultation setting out on how to simplify the state pensions system for future pensioners, including looking at processes for future increases in the retirement age. The consultation--A state pension for the 21st century--notes that longevity increases already have figured in raising the pension age to 66 by April 2020, but that increases in longevity do not end in 2020 and it is only fair that those generations who will benefit from these increases share in the costs.

Specifically, the government is asking (1) What mechanism should be used to determine future increases in State Pension age? and (2) How should the Government respond to the frequent revisions in life expectancy projections while giving individuals sufficient time to prepare? The paper suggests some possibile mechanisms, such as increasing the age through a formula linked to life expectancy, or alternatively increasing the by puting in place a review at regular, pre-determined intervals.

As noted in an article in The Telegraph before the paper's release:
However Mr Duncan Smith said the Government was preparing to increase the retirement age further because people are living longer and "don't feel like retiring at 65".

Mr Duncan Smith told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News: "The last Government already set projections to 67, 68 ... and we are revising those to look again.

“There is no question, no point in hiding the fact that retirement will have to move over a period, obviously to help people adjust, for two reasons.

"First of all, because we are living longer, most people don't feel like retiring at 65. We have many, many thousands now choosing to work beyond 65 and that's why we lifted that thing called the default retirement age, where you could be forced into retirement."
Sources: Department for Work and Pensions Press Release (April 4, 2011); The Telegraph "Most of us want to work beyond 65, says Iain Duncan Smith" (April 3, 2011); Age UK "Default retirement age scrapped from today" (April 6, 2011)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

United Kingdom: Ageism of Greatest Concern to Older Population

Demos and Brunel University have released a study looking at aging policy from older people’s point of view, finding, among other things, that the very negative narratives about an aging society that conceptualise aging and older people as a problem are contributing to many older people feeling demoralised and disengaged from politics and the policy-making process. In fact, according to one of the authors of the study, agism to be a greater concern than crime among older people: "Whereas ageism was discussed vigorously in every one of our research groups, crime did not receive a single mention."

"Coming of Age", authored by Louise Bazalgette, John Holden, Philip Tew, Nick Hubble, and Jago Morriso, finds that age discrimination was felt to impact on every area of older people’s lives; in employment, in public services, in public places and even in family life. With respect to work and retirement, in particular, the study finds that the United Kingdom's "one size fits all" approach to retirement policy may itself be discriminatory and counter-productive, since it is those with the worst health and the lowest life expectancies who will suffer most from increases in the state pension age.

Accordingly, the authors suggest that, to "mitigate these problems it will be essential that the government both takes action to improve general health and reduce health inequalities, and investigates how employment can be made more flexible to reflect the heterogeneity of older people’s skills, personal responsibilities (eg caring roles) and health prospects."

Source: DEMOS "Putting a stop to age discrimination" (April 8, 2011)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Australia: Chambers of Commerce Endorse Government Promotion of Mature Age Employment and Apprenticeships

The Tasmanian (TCCI) and Australian (ACCI) Chambers of Commerce and Industry have congratulated the Australian government for its promotion of mature age employment participation. As noted by ACCI Chief Executive, Peter Anderson: "Australian employers need to develop innovative strategies to attract and retain valued employees to meet the vital skills needs of their business now and into the future."

The government endorsement follows the issuance of an ACCI research project--"It's Not About Age"--which focuses on building positive employment and training outcomes for employers and mature age apprentices to ensure that the Australian business community has access to a highly skilled and motivated workforce.

Separately, TCCI Chief economist Mark Bowles said hiring mature-aged workers was both a solution to Tasmania's skills shortage and inevitable because of our ageing population. According to Bowles, figures from the ACCI estimated 85% of workforce growth in the next decade would be for workers over 45, and he thought that figure could even be higher for Tasmania

Sources: Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Media Release (March 30, 2011); Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Media Release (March 30, 2011); The Mercury "Older worker championed" (April 19, 2011)

See also links to Australian resources.