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People in focus: How an ergonomic working environment helps to master demographic change
Demographic change has an impact on all areas of our society, including working life. An ageing workforce means new challenges for employers, especially in terms of occupational safety. Health and safety at work is one of the basic duties of employers. They must therefore ensure that all groups of employees are protected from occupational accidents and damage to health, while also taking individual needs into account. Read below to find out what challenges occupational safety officers face and how you can best meet them.
Demographic change poses new challenges for occupational health and safety
Later retirement and shortage of skilled workers cause changing age structures
Demographic change describes the changes in the age structure of the population. Rising life expectancy and falling birth rates are having a profound impact on many aspects of social life, including the world of work.
As the retirement age rises, older workers are working longer and staying in the workforce longer. At the same time, there are fewer young workers entering the labour market. Especially in the technical sector, there are not enough qualified workers to fill vacancies. Employers are all the more dependent on older skilled workers to ensure their competitiveness and growth in the long term.
Demographic change thus also brings many challenges in the area of occupational safety: working conditions must be adapted to the changing age structure in the workforce and targeted investments must be made in the health and well-being of older workers.
AGEING WORKFORCE: EMPLOYERS MUST PAY ATTENTION TO INDIVIDUAL RISKS
As people stay in the workforce longer, the average age of workers in many industries and occupations is increasing. This has huge implications for occupational safety, as older workers are more prone to workplace accidents and injuries due to age-related physical changes and illnesses. Another important factor is the decrease in physical capacity with age.
According to the law, employers are obliged to take into account specific hazards for vulnerable groups of employees. It is therefore imperative that companies incorporate demographic change into their workplace design and strategies to ensure that they can meet the needs of all employees. In order to ensure occupational safety for older workers, it is therefore important to offer custom-fit ergonomic working conditions. This can include, for example, the adaptation of work processes and tasks as well as the use of technical aids.
Older employees are valuable - protect them from occupational accidents and diseases!
Older employees are often particularly valuable to companies. Here are some reasons why:
Experience and know-how
Due to their many years of experience in the workplace, older employees can make valuable contributions and help solve problems and challenges.
Continuity and stability
The often long length of service can help to ensure continuity and stability in the company.
Reliability and responsibility
Older employees often have a higher work ethic and work particularly reliably and responsibly. As a result, they can contribute to the stability and efficiency of the company.
Mentoring and knowledge transfer
Long-serving employees can pass on their experience to young colleagues and help to nurture and support the next generation of employees.
Network and contacts
Through their many years of experience, they have already built up many contacts and relationships that can be beneficial for the company.
Older workers are a valuable and growing workforce due to demographic change. Promoting their health is therefore not only a moral obligation, but also an economic necessity. By promoting the health of older employees in a targeted way, employers can help them stay healthy and productive in the workforce for longer. Health promotion can help prevent or alleviate age-related illnesses and ailments, which in turn has a positive impact on work ability and performance.
Ergonomic working environment in old age: our tips for employers
Special challenges with physically demanding activities
Physically demanding activities, such as in the production environment or in logistics, can be particularly stressful for older workers. Over the years, this can lead to physical signs of wear and tear, such as muscle and joint complaints or even back problems. Repetitive movements and constant standing in particular can lead to pain and exhaustion. In addition, due to the natural ageing process, older workers can cope with less strain than younger colleagues. They are often more susceptible to injuries and illnesses that can be caused by the physical stresses at work. An ergonomic work environment is effective in reducing workload and the risk of injury or illness.
Support older employees in load handling
Intralogistical activities play a central role in many companies. Employees are busy transporting, storing or sorting goods and materials within the company premises. These tasks can be physically demanding and a strain on health, especially for older employees. Therefore, it is important to make the working conditions in intralogistics as ergonomic as possible. One possibility is the use of ergonomic aids such as transport trolleys, cranes or conveyors. These can help move heavy loads or automate repetitive movements to reduce the strain on employees.
We have summarised ergonomic handling aids for the intralogistics sector for you:
Transport trolleys, logistics trolleys, rollers or pushcarts can be used for a wide variety of transport purposes. DENIOS offers over 300 different articles.
Work smarter - not harder! Protect your employees with the latest ergonomic tools and discover our innovation for all containers up to 100kg.
The ergonomic lifter from DENIOS is an ideal solution for the simple and safe transport of small containers. The standard version of the trolley comes with an adapter plate and pre-installed lifting arms for containers with side handles. The adapter plate is modularly expandable: with additional container holders (see accessories), any small container can be safely picked up. The slim chassis is easy and manoeuvrable with the help of its four swivel castors. The low overall height makes it possible to drive safely under tubs and pallets.
Older workers need special protection from noise and poor visibility because their age may make them more susceptible to certain health problems. For example, they may already have hearing impairment or vision problems that can be exacerbated by noise or poor visibility. In addition, noise can also lead to increased stress and thus worsen other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. Older workers may also have less energy and regenerative capacity than younger workers, which can make it more difficult to recover from the effects of noise and poor visibility.
It is therefore important that employers take steps to protect older workers from these potential hazards, such as providing hearing protection and improved visibility in the workplace.
The right lighting for optimal visibility
Did you know that with a lack of visual conditions, colour perception, among other things, can already be impaired from the age of 30? Likewise, vision decreases from the age of 45. These factors can result in slower reaction times, which in turn increase the frequency of accidents. With the right lighting, ideally with individually adjustable illuminance levels, you can already support your employees considerably. You can also use our guide to the right lighting in workplaces.
Increased exposure to noise can cause hearing loss from the age of 40. A frequently represented occupational disease is noise-induced hearing loss. To prevent this, there are various products that can be used preventively to protect hearing.
For older workers, standing jobs can be particularly challenging. Standing for long periods can cause pain in the joints and muscles, especially in the legs and feet. Fortunately, there are solutions to ease the burden of standing for older workers, such as the use of seating and ergonomic workplace mats.
One way to relieve the pressure on older workers when they are standing is to use seating. A sitting stool or height-adjustable chair can provide comfortable and stable support that allows older workers to rest and reduce pressure on their joints without interrupting their work. In addition to office chairs, there are also special seating options such as standing aids and stools that can make the workplace more ergonomic.
Ergonomic workplace mats are specially designed floor coverings designed to relieve pressure on the body during prolonged standing and reduce pressure on joints and muscles. They are available in different sizes and thicknesses and can be used on all types of flooring, including tiles and carpets. An ergonomic workplace mat can also help improve comfort in the workplace and reduce the risk of falls and impacts.
The topic of ergonomics and demographic change is extremely complex and includes many more aspects.
Important to know: If employee needs and protections are not met or disregarded, there can be an increased rate of absenteeism. There are a number of measures employers can take to reduce these absences. We have summarised some of these measures for you:
Ergonomic working conditions
Ensure that working conditions are designed so that workers can work ergonomically and without severe physical strain.
Offer training and education
Educating employees about safety and health risks can help increase their awareness of potential hazards and reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
Health promotion and prevention
Offer health programmes to help employees maintain their health. This can include, for example, healthy eating, regular exercise and stress reduction.
Ensure that the workload is matched to the skills and capacity of the employees to avoid overexertion and exhaustion.
Review of working conditions
Regularly check working conditions and identify potential risks or sources of danger. Eliminate these risks to prevent injuries or lost work time.
We are happy to advise you!
Whether on the phone, via e-mail or in person at your premises - we are happy to help and advise you. Get in touch with us.
The specialist information on this page has been compiled carefully and to the best of our knowledge and belief. Nevertheless, DENIOS AG cannot assume any warranty or liability of any kind, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, for the topicality, completeness and correctness either towards the reader or towards third parties. The use of the information and content for your own or third party purposes is therefore at your own risk. In any case, please observe the locally and currently applicable legislation.