THURSDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- More and more Americans over age 55 are working later in life, and this means work-related injuries in this group continue to climb, up from 12 percent in 2003 to 17 percent in the latest tally, federal health officials report.
Although older workers do not have an increased risk of injury overall compared to younger workers, they are at higher risk of falls from stairs, ladders or heights and for specific types of injuries, including fractures and hip injury, the researchers said.
Unless workplaces keep the safety of older workers in mind, injuries will mount as the number of older workers rises from 19 percent to a quarter of the workforce by 2018, according to the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There is an urgent need for us to look at the safety and health needs of older workers, because they are growing. Employers and others should take steps to help protect the older worker," said report co-author Dawn N. Castillo, chief of the surveillance and field investigations branch in the division of safety research at the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
"We thought it is important to look at injury data to be able to assess if there might be some specific needs in terms of safety and health for the older worker," she added.
Castillo stressed that the overall rate of injuries suffered by older workers is the same -- or even lower -- than other age groups.
But since the rates of falls, fractures and hip injuries are higher among older workers, "this points to the need of employers to be aware of these risks and take steps to improve safety of the older workforce," she said.
Improving safety for older workers will also improve safety for all workers, Castillo said.
The report was published in the April 29 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mort
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