Older Workers More Prone to Fatal Workplace Accidents, Study Says

Research published by the Associated Press analyzing federal statistics indicates that the elderly die on the job at a much higher rate than the rest of the workforce.

With the typical retirement age at 55 years, more workers bypass it and continue working. This progression in deadly accidents among the elderly is alarming. The rates at which accidents occur among workers aged above 55 years are 50% – 65% more compared to younger workers.

With age comes physical and mental changes which could possibly turn a workplace injury into a more serious injury, possibly fatal. Some of these changes may include progressive vision loss, hearing deterioration, balance problems and longer response time. Additionally, elderly workers are inclined to suffer injuries to their back, knees, shoulders or legs. Studies show that time taken to recover from such injuries among older workers is significantly longer compared to younger workers.

The Statistics

Between 2006 and 2015, the study indicates that total workplace deaths decreased by 22 percent, but the rate among those aged 55 years and above was between 50 to 65 percent. From a total of 5480 deaths in 2005, the number of deaths for the whole workforce decreased to 4836 in 2015. However, the number of deadly injuries for older workers rose from 1562 to 1681 during that period. Moreover, the total workforce increased by 6 percent while the number of elderly people in the workplace increased by 37 percent.

How do States Fare?

Nevada, Washington and New Jersey had the highest number of fatalities between 2005 and 2015.

The states of Vermont, Hawaii and Oregon had the largest percentage decrease in workplace injuries among the elderly during that period. The study shows that the total number and the types of fatalities changed among elderly workers between 2011 and 2015 as indicated below:

  • Transportation related fatalities rose by 15 percent
  • Accidents caused by falls increased by 20 percent
  • Accidental contact with equipment and machines rose by 17 percent
  • Fire-related accidents decreased by 8 percent

The study excluded cases where the main cause of death was either from a natural cause or sickness. This may include heart attacks or strokes.

Protection of Older Workers from Workplace Injuries

Studies indicate that the number of older workers will be constantly increasing as we have been experiencing over the recent couple of years. Workers in their 50’s need to work in a safe and secure workplace to avoid fatalities and accidents.

Employers can aid older workers by making adjustments to their workplace. In case of accidents, there should be a clear compensation scheme in place. The benefits should include treatment, lost earnings and compensation in the case of a disability.

If workers ever experience an accident at their workplace and feel under compensated, firms like https://www.citywidelaw.com are working to assist employees of all ages get the benefits they deserve for injuries suffered in their line of duty.


Companies with an older workforce should focus on providing an age friendly workplace to make them more productive. Regulators could create laws and regulations to ensure employers focus and enforce safety guidelines for the older workforce.