Whether you’re in HR, the WHS officer, a manager/supervisor or a worker, our ageing workforce impacts you. It’s one of the biggest issues facing Australia today, and requires targeted management. A large percentage of the Australian workforce are over 65. They bring extremely valuable knowledge and experience to the workplace, however they also face age-specific OHS concerns. These need to be address by adjusting organisational practices, adopting new technologies and assisting with work demands. Following are some of the key changes ageing people experience and tips for ensuring their health, safety and productivity. 1. Decreased joint mobility and reduced tissue elasticity; • avoid jobs that require/have sustained or awkward postures; • position objects and controls to minimise prolonged flexing, bending and stooping; • adjust furniture to body shapes and sizes; • design machinery seats to reduce vibration. 2. Loss of strength; • avoid tasks that require high strength – lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or rapid lifting; • design tasks so that lifting is kept close to the body (minimise bending and stooping); • provide sufficient breaks between tasks; • teach workers safe lifting, pulling and pushing; • reduce weight of objects lifted. 3. Reduced physical functional capacity; • assign jobs requiring less energy expenditure 4. Slower perception and decision making; attention and memory deficits; • provide longer training sessions, practice with written instructions, video tapes of desired performance, increase signal to noise ratio; • assign work which is previewed rather than reacted to, tasks that are predictable rather than novel. 5. Visual deficits, acuity, colour discrimination; • provide more illumination, increase contrast on control panels, writing on labels, size of display letters and symbols, reduce glare, place important signs at eye level; • avoid, where possible, blue/green discrimination. If you would like more information about managing ergonomic and WHS issues with an ageing workforce, give us a call on 03 9376 1844 for an obligation free discussion.