Did you know older people face a higher workplace fatality rate even as the overall rate of workplace deaths are decreasing? It is a troubling statistic, but it is true. According to U.S. News, 35 percent of deadly workplace injuries involved workers who were 55 years or older in 2015. This alarming trend cannot be ignored, especially if you are an older worker yourself or are related to one.
Understanding why older employees face a higher risk of fatal injuries on the job is the first step to prevention and taking action if such an accident occurs. Here is a look at the data and the most common deadly accidents:
One reason older workers die on the job at a higher rate is the physical changes that come with aging. Accidents that may simply injure younger workers may prove more fatal for the elderly. Vision loss, hearing impairment, balance problems, slowed response time and chronic health issues can contribute to a higher likelihood of death during a workplace accident.
Common fatal accidents
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the most common types of accidents involving older workers dying in 2011 were:
- Struck by objects or equipment
- Transportation accidents
- Explosions and fires
This excludes deaths related to natural causes, such as a stroke or heart attack.
What can be done
After looking at this data, experts have advocated for more worker protections. For example, better lighting can help older workers who have worsening eyesight. Employers should take proper measures to ensure all employees are informed about hazards and are trained to accomplish the tasks at hand, including operating forklifts.
Take notice of these alarming trends if you or someone you know is an older worker. When an older employee dies on the job, family members may be able to claim workers compensation death benefits.