Experts say the likelihood of workplace injuries increases with age.

Researchers say that the burden of work-related injuries in older employees is only set to increase, and so more needs to be done to keep them safe.

“Employers and policy makers need to consider the impact of work activities on older workers while continuing to value their productivity,” says health researcher Dr Chrys Jaye.

Employers need to work to make workplaces as safe and hazard free as possible.

“This means taking into account risks related to age-related impairments such as declining vision, hearing, physical capacity and balance. This might include re-designing workplaces to meet the needs of older workers, and worker training and health promotion in the workplace,” Dr Jaye said.

“A workplace that is safer for older workers is likely to be safer for all workers.”

The study found that in New Zealand, older workers represented a significant slice of all traumatic work injuries, with 70 to 79 year-olds suffering at an even higher rate.

Just over one in five accepted claims for all traumatic work injuries were made by workers aged 55–79 years, and that age group also had the highest percentage (five per cent) of fatal injury.

Regardless of age, the highest claim rates are for males.

The researchers believe factors behind the increased rate of injury include the decline of physical and cognitive function with age, workplace safety culture of those employing older workers, the self-perception of invulnerability of older workers, underestimation of risk when overly familiar with a hazard, and age-related job segregation leading to different job hazard exposures.

Their study is accessible here.