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October 2005, Vol. 128, No. 10
Injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among older workers
Elizabeth Rogers and William J. Wiatrowski
Older workers face many of the same workplace hazards as do other workers; the most prevalent events leading to job-related injuries or fatalities are falls, assaults, harmful exposures, or transportation incidents. But in many cases, the nature of the injury suffered by an older worker is more severe than that suffered by younger workers. Older workers who suffer a workplace injury may experience longer recovery periods than their younger counterparts. And older workers die from workplace injuries at a higher rate than do younger workers. This analysis focuses on occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among older workers, and identifies differences in the severity of the events as a result of age.
Americans are living longer than ever before, and increasing numbers of older Americans are working. These facts have led to expanded interest in the activities of older Americans, and their work life. Americans born at the beginning of the 21st century can expect to live an average of 77 years, an increase of 9 years, compared with persons born a half century ago. Those aged 65 in 2000 can expect to live 18 years. Considering age 65 to be a typical retirement age, individuals can expect to live nearly 2 additional decades. Both the need to feel productive and the need for income may lead these older Americans to work during what are typically considered retirement years.1
Further, the cohort of older Americans is getting larger. There are currently 35 million Americans aged 65 and older, and another 28 million age 55–64. The baby-boom generation, those born in the years following World War II, are currently in their early 40s to late 50s. Over the next 20 years, the percent of Americans aged 65 and older will grow from the current 12 percent of the population to 21 percent. Clearly there is much interest in this group.
This excerpt is from an article published in the October 2005 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Data from several Federal statistical agencies on population, life expectancy, and work status of older Americans are compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics in a chartbook titled Older Americans 2004: Key Indicators of Well Being. The chartbook is available on the Internet at http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/lps58292/OA_2004.pdf.
Related BLS programs
Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities
The relation of age to workplace injuries.—July 1988.
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