Whether out of desire or necessity, people are now working well into their 70s and even their 80s. Often, the jobs they are getting after retiring or being excessed in another industry are physically demanding and better suited to someone several decades younger. However, that doesn’t stop them from taking the job and doing the best they can to keep up. Unfortunately, the more strenuous the work is, the more likely it is that they will be injured on the job.
At Monast Law Office, we are hearing from more older workers with physical injuries than we have in the past. We want to remind everyone that if you are injured at work—no matter how old you are, how much you are paid, or how many hours you work per week—you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits in Ohio.
Why Are Older Workers in Physically Demanding Jobs?
It’s the economy. Pensions and retirement savings aren’t going as far as they used to, and more people are forced back into the workplace to make ends meet. But it’s not all out of necessity. It’s also because people are healthier and in better shape in their 60s and 70s than their grandparents and great-grandparents were, and they don’t want to sit at home doing nothing.
But why are older people working in such physically demanding jobs? According to the Urban Institute, it’s because these are the jobs available to them. They found that the top job opportunities for men over the age of 62 are:
- Janitorial work
- Grounds maintenance
- Retail sales
These jobs require manual labor, lifting heavy objects, sitting or standing for long periods, exposure to extreme weather, and other types of physical exertion.
Women over the age of 62 are most likely to find jobs as personal-care or home-health aides, childcare providers, retail workers, or house cleaners. These positions are also physically demanding, requiring bending and lifting, standing, and general exertion.
In other words, not every senior citizen is working part-time as a Wal-Mart greeter. Many are hauling boxes at Home Depot, pushing mops, rolling bed-bound patients over, carrying toddlers on their hips, and mowing lawns. Whether they enjoy the work or not, people over the age of 62 are definitely at a high risk of injury.
Older Workers Are Twice as Likely as Younger Workers to Be Injured on the Job
According to a CDC study from a few years ago, over 40 percent of workers between the ages of 55 and 64 had a work-related health issue in 2018, compared to just 20 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds. The most prevalent injury reported in the study was back pain. Older workers are more susceptible to workplace injuries because of these factors:
- Age-related physical weakness. As we age, our muscles shrink and lose mass. Losing muscle fiber means it takes our muscles longer to respond than they did when we were younger. It is harder to lift heavy objects and to catch ourselves when we trip or slip.
- Loss of flexibility. Tendons and ligaments become stiffer and less resilient as we age, meaning we are more likely to damage a joint when we twist or turn suddenly.
- Heart disease. The older you are, the more likely it is that you will develop hypertension and heart failure. This can lead to a fatal incident if a person who has been relatively sedentary suddenly exerts themselves on the job.
- Poor vision and hearing. Not seeing or hearing as well as we once did makes it harder to avoid workplace hazards and respond to warnings, making a fall, collision, or other accident more likely.
If you are an older worker hurt at work, your injury report might be downplayed or disregarded because of your age. Don’t let this happen. You are entitled to workers’ compensation for healthcare costs and potentially for lost wages.
Get Help From Monast Law Office
With over 30 years of experience as a workers' comp attorney in Ohio, I have helped workers of all ages get the compensation they have earned. If your employer is giving you a hard time, contact Monast Law Office to discover how we can help. Learn more by requesting a free copy of our book, The Worker's Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio, then fill out our online contact form or call our Upper Arlington office at 614-334-4649 to get started.