National Employ Older Workers Week, held annually the last full week of September, recognizes the vital role of older workers in the workforce. National Employ Older Workers Week aims to increase awareness of this labor segment and develop innovative strategies to tap it.
The U.S. is undergoing a demographic shift that is changing older Americans’ relation to the workplace. The average and median age of the U.S. population is rising, and the composition of the workforce with it. As the population ages, older Americans will play an increasingly important role in our economy and America’s leadership in the world marketplace.
An aging workforce means having to think about how workers and organizations address the needs and challenges of older workers, as well as take advantage of the opportunities that aging and an age-diverse workforce can bring to the work environment.
- Know Your Rights – Under Federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Training also plays a key role in the prevention of accidents.
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Older Workers Statistics
- In 2015, 33 million Americans aged 55+ were employed, and 1.3 million were actively seeking work. (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]
- The share of the labor force made up of people aged 55+ has increased from 12% in 1994 to 22% in 2014.
- By 2019, over 40% of Americans aged 55+ will be employed, making up over 25% of the U.S. labor force.
- Nearly twice as many older workers aged 65+ were employed in 2015 than teenage workers (8.4 million vs 4.7 million). (BLS)
Aging Not Only Influences Well-Being – But Also Safety
The process of aging influences the safety and well-being of workers in both positive and negative ways. Age can be positively related to safety performance and organizational citizenship behavior, such as effective teamwork and conflict resolution.
Also, older workers tend to experience lower rates of non-fatal work-related illness and injury compared to younger workers; however, fatality rates are higher for older workers compared to younger workers.
What is Productive Aging?
Productive aging is an approach that emphasizes the positive aspects of growing older and how individuals can make important contributions to their own lives, their communities and organizations, and society as a whole. In the context of work, productive aging involves providing a safe and healthy work environment for everyone through comprehensive strategies that allow workers to function optimally at all ages.
National Center for Productive Aging and Work (NCPAW)
The National Center for Productive Aging and Work (NCPAW) advances lifelong well-being for workers of all ages and supports a productive aging across the working life. The Center continues to work on such important issues as how organizations are addressing the needs of an aging workforce and identifying interventions and strategies to support both workers of all age groups and organizations that employ them. The Center is hosted by the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health®.
NIOSH and CDC Resources on Productive Aging and Work
- 2011 MMWR article on non-fatal injuries among older workers
An article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that presents an analysis of non-fatal injury data from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Age Awareness Training for Miners
Comprehensive NIOSH training curriculum focusing on the mining sector, with relevance and useful information for any sector with an aging workforce. Focus of training is to promote safety and health of workers by matching the demands of the job to worker capabilities.
- National Academies of Sciences Report on Older Workers: Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers
This comprehensive report on the aging workforce was funded by NIOSH, NIA, and EPA–and conducted in 2004 by the National Research Council, examining physical, psychological and social factors in aging workers and current knowledge about their health and safety needs.
- NIOSH Youth@Work-Talking Safety curriculum
A step-by-step training guide to teach young workers about job safety and health. The curriculum can be used in a classroom or other group setting, and has been customized for each state, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and the U.S Virgin Islands.
- Older Drivers in the Workplace: Crash Prevention for Employers and Workers
A two-page NIOSH fact sheet on older drivers with suggestions for prevention and an analysis of work-related crashes.
- Older Employees in the Workplace: CDC National Healthy Worksite Program (NHWP) Issue Brief
A 7-page overview on the health and safety issues of the aging workforce presented in a joint webinar hosted by NWHP.
Select NIOSH/CDC Topic Pages Related to Healthy Productive Aging in the Workplace
- CDC Healthy Aging Data Portfolio
- CDC Topic Page on Arthritis
- CDC Topic Page on Healthy Aging
- CDC Topic Page on High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
- CDC Topic Page on Physical Activity in the Workplace
- NIOSH Topic Page on Hearing Loss Prevention
- CDC Topic Page on Diabetes
- NIOSH Topic Page on Musculoskeletal Disorders
- NIOSH Topic Page on Organization of Work
- NIOSH Topic Page on Shiftwork and Long Work Hours
- NIOSH Topic Page on Young Worker Safety and Health
- NIOSH Topic Page on Workplace Stress
- Search All NIOSH Safety and Health Topics