Older workers bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the job site, including a strong work ethic, a sense of responsibility, maturity, and loyalty. Their experience is particularly important when it comes to identifying hazards and safely completing complex tasks – they’ve seen what can go wrong and know how to prevent mistakes and work efficiently.
Supporting older workers who remain on the job is especially important today, when the construction workforce overall is aging and the industry is having difficulties recruiting and retaining enough skilled workers. However, the demands of many construction jobs can challenge older workers. Workers with years of experience often have job-related physical wear and tear, such as chronic musculoskeletal conditions, hearing loss, and chronic lung and other diseases. Construction workers also encounter the normal effects of aging, which may include reduced muscle mass, balance, cardiovascular function, visual acuity and reaction times, as well as increased susceptibility to respiratory infections and heat-related illnesses.
Many contractors have found ways to address these challenges and reap the benefits of having older workers on their teams. Central to this effort is increased attention to work organization, which provides proven safety and health improvements. Better organization and planning actually benefit everyone on the job, as they reduce occupational injuries and illnesses for younger as well as older workers.
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