If you missed part one, you can read it here. Continuing our short series on What’s Good for Older Workers is Good for All…
More ergonomic considerations for the workplace:
Approximately 25% of older workers lose all sensation in their fingertips. Grasping is harder and takes more force. There is a decrease in joint mobility. Provide hand protection, substitute levers or push buttons for knobs, offer different tool designs depending on the job. For example, a barrel grip drill is much better for horizontal surfaces and a pistol grip is better for vertical surfaces.
Body Temperature Regulation
There are multiple variables affecting body temp regulation. There is no OSHA standard for body temp regulation – it is mentioned under the “General Duty” clause. In excessive heat, dehydration is the biggest concern. At greater than 77 degrees, tissue metabolism decreases – wearing more clothes may be preferable, as it allows the body to sweat and keep moisture in. However, drinking water is still necessary to stay hydrated. In extreme cold, manual dexterity decreases, peripheral circulation decreases and nerve irritability increases. Gloves are basic PPE, but ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. Make sure gloves fit, because if they are too big, the worker will have to work much harder to grip items.
Certainly our physical strength declines with age. Unfortunately, the job demands do not change. We just aren’t able to do what we did 20 years ago, so, offering incentives to maintain fitness levels is a good idea. Fit for duty testing to determine whether the employee is safe to continue doing their job is ideal. If a problem is identified, the employee can be encouraged to “fix the problem” (maybe on FMLA) or enter a conditioning program to get them back up to the level of performing their job safely. These are much better alternatives than allowing them to continue working unsafely and risk an injury.
Making modifications that protect the older worker is good business sense for ALL workers. For more information about ergonomic assessments, as well as other services we offer to reduce work disability and lost time (employment testing, work conditioning, FCE’s, Fit for Duty exams), contact Job Ready Services: 919-256-1400 or email us.