Vol. 1, Issue 33a (Sep 06) Age & Workplace

Health and Safety – and ageism!

With all the talk about age, pension and working longer we thought we should cover the subject matter. Do no think that age is about older age, it is also strongly linked to the younger less experience workers.

It must start with management commitment, and should form part of the whole ethos and attitude of the workforce.

Employers should have in place policies to state the intent of the company / business.

If you discriminate against an employee and lose the case, there is currently no limit on how much the tribunal can ask you to pay.

Employers are responsible for the actions of the employees, so ensure you do not end up having to pay for their mistakes.

Older persons do not have more accidents in the workplace, younger workers and less experienced workers have been found to have a higher accident risk.

Specific risk assessments are required for young persons – generally accepted to be under the age of eighteen – see the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 19 ‘Protection of Young Persons’ – send an e-mail and we will reply with a risk assessment to assist you in evaluation.

The thinking that older persons have more incidents due to sprains, falls and strains is not correct. These risks can be controlled by good housekeeping and improved health and safety monitoring – this would benefit the whole organization – not just groups of workers.

Older people normally have a more sensible and pragmatic approach to the workplace due to their ‘life experiences’.

Are these individuals who are considered to be old the right person for the job? Do not discount them on the grounds of age.
Could you consider them as part of a mentoring system?
They may be the right person for the job, they may be the one who is capable of delivering a wealth of experience to the persons undergoing training.

You should recognise that the persons skills can decline if not used regularly. So you must ensure that all persons of all age receive on-going operator and refresher training in the tasks that they are undertaking.

When issuing work instructions you should ensure that the demands of the labours do not exceed the operators ability to complete the tasks in a reasonable manner. We should all ensure that the capabilities and their current level of knowledge and experience is taken into account when allocating the task.

Training and competence needs will have to be reviewed of the work activity alters-such as change of plant or equipment or process. This should also include a change of department.

Flexible Working.

There are a number of working practices that may be adopted dependent on the size of the organization you work with and can include: -

  • Part time working.
  • Job sharing.
  • Term time working.
  • Career break opportunities.
  • Phased retirement.
  • Temporary or call down contracts to cover holidays, sickness or busy periods.

Remember young person may already be working part time on site due to attendance at college etc.

By 2010, forty per cent of the workforce will be aged 45 and over, people are living longer, the average age of the workforce is rising. Business success depends on keeping both your older and younger workers up-skilled.

To minimise skills shortages, you may need to retain older workers for longer
and recognise they are a valuable resource for your business success.

Employees aged over 50 are likely to stay with their employer until retirement providing up to 15 years or more labour.

Helping all your employees to update existing skills and gain new skills will help them sustain productive and satisfying employment.

Some benefits of training include:

  • higher competence and capabilities;
  • improved quality of service;
  • increased motivation and retention;
  • Raised commitment.

“Experienced older works may take a more responsible attitude to health and safety risks (Challen 1998), they are likely to use their experience to judge the limits more accurately, be more likely to follow rules and advice (HSE 2002), be more cautious than young workers (Shepard 1997) and may be more aware of potential accident risks (Saliminen 1993)

Organisations can benefit from the employment of older workers in developing a more responsible culture and attitude towards health and safety risks in the workplace”.

The above taken as a direct quotes from the “Age Partnership Group”.

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 news