The aging workforce will have a significant effect on the costs of the employer, but being prepared for the changes is the best way to prevent inevitable problems from becoming costly claims. There are some very easy and cost-effective ways to make some adjustments in the workplace that are not only good for older workers, but for everyone. Below are just a few ergonomic considerations for the workplace:
– Typically, vision problems begin in the 40-50 age group, however recent research indicates this number is moving more toward 35-40. One reason may be the increased usage of computers and computer games at an earlier age. Print instructions in larger print. Provide proper lighting. Computer monitors should be 35” – 45” away from eyes. Increase lighting in areas where color distinction is needed. Improve visibility of stairs, hallways and close spaces. Use color to distinguish critical machine parts or safety valves. Increase font size on computer.
– Problems begin between 35 and 40. Difficulties include turning out background noises, inability to distinguish low intensity sounds/high frequency and difficulty locating the source of sounds. Reduce background noises in the workplace. Combine auditory and visual cues for such things as warnings and announcements. Being able to see someone speak allows the person to hear much better. Of course, use hearing protection in workplaces with excessive noise.
– As we age, the nerve endings in our noses decrease. Be aware of employees who may work alone in a space and who may not smell smoke or other noxious, dangerous fumes.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week…
In the meantime, if you have any questions or need further information on ergonomic assessments or job modifications, contact Job Ready Services.