Why Your Workplace May Be Bad for Your Health

Ergonomic experts suggest smart ways to avoid straining your back, arms and eyes

by Richard Eisenberg • Next Avenue
woman computer image
Photograph: iStock

Is your work killing you?
OK, it probably isn’t. But if you’re over 50, there’s a pretty good chance the way you work is hurting your health.
And if your employer or you (if you’re self-employed) don’t make some changes in your workplace, you could soon be paying the price in increased sick days, higher medical bills and plain old fatigue.
That’s my takeaway from a fascinating webinar I attended this week, called "Designing the Workplace for an Aging Population," conducted by experts at the workplace ergonomic consulting firm, Humantech.
To keep health costs and absenteeism down, employers will undoubtedly need to make their workplaces more inviting and suitable for older employees over the next decade or two.

Today, roughly 19 percent of the U.S. workforce is 55 or older; by 2025, 25 percent will be, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “And the largest increase in the workforce population will be small-framed, older women,” Humantech ergonomic engineer Kent Hatcher said in the webinar.
Preventing work-related injuries is especially important if you’re in your 50s or 60s, because older workers heal more slowly than younger ones. "Older muscles have a reduced capacity to regenerate after tissue injury stemming from overexertion,” Hatcher said. (One company that understands the need to alter its workplace is BMW, which has been redesigning assembly lines for its older workers, as I recently blogged.)

Click here for three suggestions from Hatcher and his colleague Christy Lotz to reduce your health risks at work if you’re in your 50s or 60s.

Next: Why Companies Need All the Middle-Aged Brains They Can Get

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