Fatal work accidents increase among older workers

When we venture to work each day, most of us don't think that we won't return home at the end of the day. However, in cases where an employee is faced with risks and dangers in the work environment, this could mean serious and even fatal work accidents. Although employers, federal regulations, and safety organizations put forth extensive efforts to reduce fatal incidents in the workplace, these unfortunate events still occur in workplaces across the nation.

Based on current statistics, older workers, meaning those 55-years-old and older, are more prone to being a victim of a fatal work accident. Even though the overall rate of workplace fatalities has decreased over the years, the rate for workers in this age category has been increasing. This statistic is shocking, which led researchers to take a deeper look at possible causes and contributions.

They found that one reason for this increase is the fact that people work longer in today's world. Traditionally, workers retired at age 65. However, it is much more common today to continue working well past this age. Additionally, as a person ages, his or her body is unable to heal as quickly, which can leave an individual more susceptible to additional injuries. A workplace injury is also likely to have a greater impact on an older person than a younger employee. Thus, a serious work accident is more likely to turn fatal if an older worker is involved.

Finally, researchers discovered that over the past decade, the number of workers age 55 and older in the workforce has significantly increased. Although there was an overall increase of six percent with regards to the total number of workers in the workforce, there was a 37 percent increase in this age category. This signifies that people in this age group might be returning to work after retiring.

Because there are safety concerns for those in this age group, it is suggested that occupational safety is focused on workers who fall within this age group. In general, when a fatal work accident occurs, it is important that surviving family members understand their rights and options. While this could mean exploring workers' compensation benefits, it could also include considering a wrongful death suit.

Source: The Denver Post, "Older people dying on job at higher rate than all workers," Michelle Minkoff and Maria Ines Zamudio, Aug. 6, 2017

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