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Work injuries decline for all but older workers

Across the country, safety advocates and workers alike may be joyfully sharing the latest news regarding injuries and fatalities in the workplace. According to the latest government statistics, overall fatalities from work injuries in New York and several other states have declined. However, a closer look at the data shows a darker side to the research.

While the rate of fatal accidents declined by 22 percent, the study shows that nearly 35 percent of those accidents involved workers over the age of 55. In fact, over the past decade, the rate of fatal workplace accidents for that age group was as high as 65 percent greater than the rate for all workers. The trends show that the number of older people in the workplace increased by 37 percent in that same time period, and continues to grow.

The number of fatalities on the job does not include workers who died of heart attacks, for example. In fact, 20 percent of those accidents involving older workers were falls. Seventeen percent involved fatal contact with machinery. Health professionals point out that with age often comes physical changes that may place one at a higher risk of injury, such as balance issues and declining vision.

Advocates for the rights of aging citizens caution people about drawing conclusions regarding the abilities of older workers. Such stereotyping may lead to age discrimination. However, 36 percent of older workers responded positively to a poll asking if they found their jobs more difficult and physically demanding than when they were younger.

Still, work injuries can happen to anyone of any age, and having protection, such as workers' compensation, can provide assistance with medical bills or coverage for expenses for family members if an accident should prove fatal. While such compensation is a right of most injured workers in New York, obtaining those benefits is often challenging and frustrating. Fortunately, injured workers can seek the assistance of an attorney to advocate for them during the process.

Source: morningjournal.com, "Older people dying on job at higher rate than all workers", Maria Ines Zamudio and Michelle Minkoff, Aug. 5, 2017

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