CDC Reports a Rise in Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Among Seniors

Due to the downturn in the economy, more people are delaying retirement. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) revealed that older workers (individuals over the age of 55) accounted for 19 percent of all workers in the United States in 2009, making them the nation’s fastest growing sector of the working population.

The CDC’s report analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). According to these findings, approximately 210,830 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2009 among senior workers led to lost workdays. The report also determined that in comparison to younger workers and workers of all ages, senior workers experienced greater rates of falls that occurred on the same level, fractures, and hip injuries.

To help lower incidents of workplace injuries and illnesses for older workers, the CDC advised employers to be proactive in identifying certain risks for older workers. The CDC also recommends that public health and research agencies evaluate the overall strain of occupational injuries and illnesses among older workers, aging-related risks, and effective ways to prevent accidents.

In addition to slip and fall injuries, seniors are also at special risk of occupational stress injuries. These injuries include the development and/or acceleration of heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, mental health disorders, and cognitive deficits.

As more seniors continue to work or re-enter the workforce, the number of workplace injuries will likely continue to rise. Workers’ compensation is a public insurance program that may be a viable benefits system for many seniors.

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