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Australians are working longer. In January 2019, approximately 13 percent of the workforce was aged over 65, compared to just 8pc back in 2006 – and the agricultural sector is no exception in this trend.
As workers age, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration and managed within a workplace.
Naturally with an increase in age, there are a number of physiological and psychological changes that need to be taken into consideration.
Some of these include decreased mobility, decrease in strength, increased risk of falling, slower rehabilitation from injury and higher work-related stress.
Barriers to recovery
As a person ages, their ability to recover and return to their full duties may be complicated by other health concerns. These barriers do not mean that an individual cannot recover from an injury, just that it may take longer.
There can be many benefits to an ageing workforce, including an increase in knowledge and experience in the field.
Age discrimination (and how to avoid it)
Age discrimination directly occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of their age, when someone from a different age group would be treated differently in the same situation. It can also indirectly occur when there is a rule or policy in a workplace which may have an unfair effect on a particular age group.
There can be many benefits to an ageing workforce including an increase in knowledge and experience in the field. To avoid age discrimination in a workplace, identify and address any policies that may contain discrimination towards a particular age group as well as aim to remove any bias from the hiring process to ensure it is fair and equitable.
How to help an ageing workforce work safely
There are a number of ways in which managers can help an ageing workforce:
- Proactively consult with older workers about their needs. This may include surveys or discussions between managers and staff
- Build a workplace culture that values diversity
- Provide workers with the necessary information, support and flexibility to continue working. This may include more daytime shifts rather than night or shifts shorter in duration
- Allowing workers to have more control over the method and timing of their work as it has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety and depression and increase levels of job satisfaction.
Early intervention and prevention is the key to effectively treating injuries in an ageing workforce.
Readers can contact Work Healthy Australia for information or advice about how to manage an ageing workforce in their workplace.
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