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Older workers: Does experience make up for injury vulnerability?

Are you a baby boomer in Kentucky who is not ready to retire, despite being close to - or past - retirement age? If so, you're not alone. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections says the number of workers staying on after the age of 55 and working until they are at least 65 has increased dramatically. You may need to continue earning because you cannot afford to retire yet and you want to increase your retirement funds, or is it just because you enjoy working and want to continue as long as you can?

Value

Some employers are concerned about the impact older workers can have on the workplace safety at their companies. Although they recognize the value of the knowledge many older workers have, they have to consider the increased risk of serious occupational injuries or even deaths. However, the information provided by the BLS might surprise you. The data indicates that the rate of workers older than 65 years suffering workplace injuries in 2014 were significantly lower than that of any other age group.

Risks

A spokesperson suggests these workers have the emotional intelligence and stability to avoid risks and report dangerous situations before injuries occur. However, analysis of the accident types showed that the rate of trips, slips and fall accidents among older workers were significantly higher than in other age groups. As you age, your vision, hearing and balance declines, and this makes you more vulnerable to fall accidents at work. Injuries are typically more severe in older workers -- what might have been only a sprain when you were younger, may now be a bone fracture.

Value vs. Risks

Employers are also concerned about work-related deaths. Reportedly, in the period from 2013 to 2014, the overall workplace fatality rate showed an increase of approximately 8 percent, while the rate of deaths of workers over 65 years was 17 percent higher. Employers have to weigh these facts and figures up against the value of the knowledge and the advantage of having employees with many years of experience.

Workers' comp

Fortunately, many employers choose the latter, and despite the risk of workplace injuries, they prefer to utilize the advantages brought by older workers. As an older worker with many years of experience, you will likely find comfort in knowing that you will be able to pursue financial relief in the event of a workplace injury through the Kentucky workers' compensation program. The fact that your family will be looked after in the event of a fatal workplace accident may provide further peace of mind. As mentioned, injuries to older workers are often severe, and having an experienced workers' compensation attorney to navigate the claim on behalf of you or your family may be helpful.

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